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New STEM academy inaugurated in capital

Scott Neeson, of the Cambodian Children’s Fund, inaugurates a state-of-the-art STEM school in Phnom Penh.  Mean sangha david
Scott Neeson, of the Cambodian Children’s Fund, inaugurates a state-of-the-art STEM school in Phnom Penh. Mean Sangha David

New STEM academy inaugurated in capital

A new state-of-the-art STEM academy opened its doors yesterday and on Monday will welcome more than 300 disadvantaged students in one of the most impoverished communities in Phnom Penh.

An education expert said the school could ultimately make a dent in Cambodia’s shortage of professionals in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, which the country has long endured.

The Neeson Cripps Academy, a 5-storey, 2,300-square-metre building, sits about 300 metres from the capital’s former landfill in Stung Meanchey. The school is a gift from the Velcro Companies, the technology firm behind Velcro and other products, to the Cambodian Children’s Fund.

“Very few students are choosing STEM, largely because they don’t know about it,” said Scott Neeson, founder and executive director of the CCF. “There’s a real shortage of those working on infrastructure.”

The academy is named after Neeson and Robert Cripps, for-mer Velcro Companies chairman. The school will be for grades 8 through 12, and offer classes in the second half of each day, beginning Monday with 380 students and 30 teachers.

Chin Chanveasna, executive director of the NGO Education Partnership, said there continues to be shortages, especially of engineers and scientists.

While the Ministry of Education has deployed measures to address these shortages, Chanveasna said, it hasn’t done “enough”.

Ministry spokesman Ros Salin didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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