The Japanese government has extended a more than $3 million grant to Cambodia for human resource development and scholarship programme for 2021.

The grant, announced by the Japanese embassy and Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation last week, is aimed at contributing to the promotion of human resource development and to enhance cooperation between the two countries.

Foreign minister Prak Sokhonn and Japanese ambassador Masahiro Mikami signed documents on July 26 increasing the grant aid to $3.31 million.

Sokhonn said at the signing ceremony that the grant will crucially contribute to promoting human resources development in Cambodia as well as further enhancing cooperation and the bonds of traditional friendship between the two countries.

“Through this project, 26 government officials of Cambodia will study in Japan with 24 studying for a master’s degree and two studying for a doctorate. They will receive [a stipend] during their continued studies in Japan,” he said.

Since it launched in 2000, the project has played a crucial role in supporting human resource development in Cambodia, according to the ministry’s press statements.

Over more than 20 years of Japanese grant aid to Cambodia for human resource development, 500 Cambodian officials have received scholarships, including 24 from the foreign ministry, Sokhonn said.

According to Sokhonn, Japan’s aid also covered infrastructure development, health and education in many other sectors and it had contributed greatly to socio-economic and human resource development in Cambodia.

The Japanese embassy said in a press statement that the development of government personnel who are highly educated and have international experience was an urgent issue in order to enhance the government’s capacity to satisfy the Cambodian people’s basic needs and improve their quality of life by raising it to international standards.

“It is expected that the human resources under this cooperation will contribute to the future development of Cambodia in each field, and also to the mutual understanding and the building of friendly relations between Japan and Cambodia,” the embassy said.

Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun said Japan’s provision of aid to Cambodia was helping the Cambodian people develop knowledge and skills to keep building the country over the long term.

“Students or officials on scholarships will become a valuable resource for the development of Cambodia in the future. This aid can also bond the two countries and tighten diplomatic ties and it is a means to create person to person relationships,” he said.

He added that although currently Cambodia had a lot of educational establishments and a large number of university graduates, it is still experiencing a shortage of technical expertise in human resources as the nation develops.

Chanroeun said that the government should offer good jobs to those who graduate with this sort of expert knowledge and that Cambodia should place more value on Khmer intellectuals or students who graduated with advanced degrees from abroad.