Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Japanese postgraduate education enriching Kingdom’s civil servants

Japanese postgraduate education enriching Kingdom’s civil servants

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Sreynet (third from left, back row) enjoying a homestay in Shobara in 2017. Photo supplied

Japanese postgraduate education enriching Kingdom’s civil servants

Developing human resources for its aid recipients in emerging economies tops Japan’s agenda, alongside building infrastructure to push economic growth.

The Japanese Grant Aid for Human Resource Development Scholarship (JDS) was introduced in 1999 to train young government officials who are expected to engage in implementing social and economic development plans in their countries.

The all-paid-for JDS scholarships sponsor officials from developing nations to pursue two-year master’s degrees at Japanese universities.

The first batch of Cambodian students began pursuing their education in 2001, and as of 2019 a total of 440 students from the Kingdom had completed training in Japan under the JDS programme. Each year, 26 students are selected for the programme.

Some of these Cambodian post-graduates currently hold senior positions in the civil service.

Huot Synead: Ministry of Civil Service

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Huot Synead. Photo supplied

One Cambodian beneficiary is Huot Synead, 42 – currently undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Civil Service – who completed his master’s in International Business Law at Yokohama National University in 2008.

“I chose Japan because, as an Asian country, it has a similar culture to Cambodia, and Japan is a developed nation.

“During my two years at Yokohama National University, I had to work very hard because education in Japan is very competitive and strict.

“The Japanese are very focused and disciplined people, so students have to be very disciplined in studies as well as in their daily lives. I think Japanese people’s hard work has contributed significantly to Japan’s prosperity in all areas,” said Synead.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Huot Synead (fifth from left, front row) with Yokohama National University classmates. Photo supplied

The scholarship provides an opportunity for students to conduct research for their master’s, he added.

The JDS programme covers tuition fees, accommodation, meals and transportation to university, as well as other costs.

Upon returning to his homeland after graduation, Synead continued working for the Ministry of Interior and had the opportunity to work as an assistant to Prum Sokha, the former secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior who is now the Minister of Civil Service.

The knowledge Synead gained from the scholarship together with his working experience meant he has managed to move up in his career in the Cambodian civil service.

Peng Tithsothy, Ministry of Education

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Peng Tithsothy. Photo supplied

Phnom Penh Teacher Education College (PTEC) deputy director Peng Tithsothy is another student who benefited from a postgraduate scholarship. She studied and carried out her research at Hiroshima University in 2009.

While a member of staff at the National Institute of Education (Earth Science Teacher) at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, she applied to do a master’s degree in Japan.

In her first year, she studied teaching methodology, which was her main area of research, but later decided to develop educational planning, measurement and assessment.

With that in mind, she took an additional course on how to plan, create and assess an educational project.

“During my two years in Japan, I was really focused on my studies and gained a lot of knowledge in research methods and analysis, as well as deep analytical thinking.

“And studying with Japanese and foreign students gave me the possibility to explore different perspectives and learn from other research students who had practical experience in their respective fields,” Tithsothy said.

After returning from Japan, she was involved in compiling a guide book for primary school earth science teachers at the National Institute of Education, and also developed teaching methods for science teachers.

Since 2018 she has held the post of deputy director at PTEC, where she is in charge of science, mathematics and pedagogy.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Tithsothy at her graduation ceremony on September 2011 at Hiroshima University.

“It has been 10 years since I returned to Cambodia, and I have applied a lot of what I learned in Japan at my workplace. If I had not studied in Japan through the JDS programme, I think I would not be where I am today,” said the 43-year-old Tithsothy.

Her main aim, she said, is to bring changes to the way students are taught in Cambodian schools – with a shift away from rote learning in classrooms.

“What we need to do is pay attention to teachers’ and educational leaders’ assessment ability. In Cambodia, the purpose of classes and exams are not to measure students’ level of understanding but to focus on memorising knowledge.

“There is a lack of mechanisms to evaluate students’ level of understanding. I want to build a system to solve these current weaknesses,” Tithsothy said.

Un Sreynet, Ministry of Education

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Un Sreynet. Photo supplied

The JDS scholarship also took Un Sreynet, 30, a former English teacher from the Secondary School in Phnom Penh, to Hiroshima University in 2015, where she pursued a master’s degree to help develop quality education.

After completing her studies, she returned home to continue as an English teacher, but her job did not allow her to optimise the expertise she had gained in Japan, and her career advancement was limited.

Sreynet then joined the Ministry of Education’s Department of Policy, where she is putting to use all the knowledge she gained at Hiroshima University.

“It was more than gaining knowledge, it was about learning how to live and study in a Japanese university. The living environment was comfortable and safe, which allowed me to concentrate well and learn more about local and international cultures through the university’s activities,” Sreynet said.

Her two-year Japanese stint gave her an opportunity to stay with a host family and experience the local culture.

Sreynet is excited about her current job, in which she focuses on developing education policies – which requires plenty of research – skills that she acquired while in Japan.

She is currently working with colleagues to develop a set of policies to promote quality education in the Kingdom. In 2019, she had another opportunity to visit Japan to learn about organising and implementing parent-teacher associations, health education and proper school evaluation systems.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Un Sreynet (right) with friends from Hiroshima University during an outing in 2016. Photo supplied

The JDS student network is expanding and contributing to further improving Cambodia-Japan ties.

JDS offers great opportunities for those from developing countries to learn about policy-making and institution building, which are both crucial for a country’s development.

The resulting strengthened human capital plays a significant role in improving Cambodia’s socio-economic development.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • NBC eyes KHQR payments in Laos, Vietnam

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) is working with Lao and Vietnamese authorities to expand the use of KHQR code cross-border payment systems to promote trade and investment as well as increase the scope of regional economic linkages, and in particular, facilitate remittances from overseas

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’