Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ministry, NGO to push training

Ministry, NGO to push training

Pich Sophorn (right), a secretary of state for the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, attends the launch of a skills-bridging curriculum project on Monday in Phnom Penh.
Pich Sophorn (right), a secretary of state for the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, attends the launch of a skills-bridging curriculum project on Monday in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Ministry, NGO to push training

Youth vocational training may be the key to curbing migration and combating poverty in Cambodia’s most vulnerable communities, according to child welfare NGO Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE), which is helping to roll out a technical skills program for high school dropouts.

On Friday, the Ministry of Labour officially signed on to nationwide guidelines for a one-year “skills bridging” curriculum – slated to be implemented by January – aimed at students who drop out before reaching upper secondary school.

These students will take rigorous but abbreviated courses in Khmer language, maths, chemistry and physics – coursework that prepares them to enter technical high schools, and ultimately vocational college.

Since 2010, more than 700 students in grades 8 and 9 have enrolled in a pilot version of the skills-bridging program with PSE, and as of 2015, the dropout rate was just 4 per cent.

This is in stark contrast to the overall youth demographic, who are the most at risk to abandon their studies.

In 2014, just 55 per cent of eligible students were enrolled in early secondary school (grade 7 through 9), and less than half of these students continued to upper secondary school, according to a report released in March by the Ministry of Education.

“For the development of Cambodia now, what [we] need are skilled workers,” Sarpich Pin, program director at PSE, said yesterday. “I really push this program.”

Vibol La, director of the PSE Institute, said that the high dropout rate around age 14 directly correlates to poverty and the ability of young teens to enter the workforce as cheap, untrained labourers in the garment and construction sectors.

The skills-bridging program hopes to catch these students and encourage them to return to school as a way to get better, higher-paying jobs, he said.

“Sometimes you have to choose: to live starving [or] to go somewhere with better food and jobs with no skill, no problem,” he said, attributing this as the impetus behind the 700,000 migrant Cambodians currently working in Thailand.

“When they come back with no skills, this will be the social burden of the next 10 years . . . Who will take them?” he asked.

“We can protect the children here by giving them more skills and making sure they don’t drop out of school.”

At PSE, and in the new nationwide guidelines, Vibol believes this can be achieved by focusing on motivation and teaching students to see education as a tool, not an impediment.

“[We] tell them that it is only a short period that may change their lives,” he said.

The bridge program is anticipated to roll out in approximately 30 schools throughout Cambodia by January.

The Ministry of Labour could not be reached for comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • Archaeologists find ancient remnant

    A team from the Apsara National Authority (ANA) has discovered a gatekeeper statue’s foot fragment at the Tonle Snguot Temple, within a metre of the toe of a statue found in 2017. ANA spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on Wednesday that the fragment was

  • Hun Sen to the rescue

    Cambodia has won praise for allowing passengers of the MS Westerdam cruise ship to dock at Preah Sihanouk port, thanks to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s humanitarian act. In a message via Twitter on Wednesday, the director-general of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu

  • EU partially withdraws EBA

    The EU Commission on Wednesday announced the partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme, citing a serious and systematic violation by Cambodia of principles in the four core human and labour rights. The suspension affects one-fifth or €1 billion ($1.08 billion) of Cambodia’s annual

  • Japan calls for policy changes

    Representatives of Japanese companies and investors on Wednesday submitted a list of policy recommendations to the government concerning 21 challenges to the Kingdom’s business climate. Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami and leaders of the Japanese Business Association in Cambodia (JBAC), Japan International Cooperation Agency

  • Still no word about EBA but rice likely unaffected

    Officials on Monday said the government had not received an official statement regarding the EU’s potential withdrawal of Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme. The EU launched the EBA withdrawal procedure on February 12, citing “a deterioration of democracy [and] respect for human rights”

  • Hate worse than virus, PM says

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday criticised countries that have cancelled flights with China following the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), arguing that such moves amounted to discrimination against the Chinese. In a speech delivered during the groundbreaking ceremony for work on national roads 2