Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Program eyes NGO aspirants

Program eyes NGO aspirants

Royal University of Phnom Penh social worker graduate Chhum Ratha
Royal University of Phnom Penh social worker graduate Chhum Ratha stands in front of the capital’s Calmette Hospital yesterday afternoon. Pha Lina

Program eyes NGO aspirants

The Royal University of Phnom Penh plans to make its social work degree available to everyone next year, as young, locally trained graduates look to take the reins from foreign aid workers.

Seven years after beginning via a scholarship program, the four-year degree is set to transition to a “freebase” course when it resumes in 2015, meaning successful applicants will pay for their place.

RUPP Department of Social Work Faculty member Ung Kimkanika said the move would help the course financially, but also open access to the degree to Cambodia’s huge pool of informally trained para-social workers who work with NGOs.

“Because it’s a scholarship program, we have only been able to recruit students from high school,” Kimkanika said.

“But there is a lot of interest, especially from those people who are working for NGOs. These are people with interesting experience that we can’t ignore.”

Initiated in 2008, the course was developed specifically to train Cambodian social workers to take charge of a sector traditionally coordinated by foreign aid workers and staffed by Cambodians often with little formal training.

As Cambodia becomes more stable, this is something 2014 graduate Chhum Ratha wants to see change.

“In Cambodia, mostly people working in NGOs are para-social workers and their managers are foreigners,” Ratha said.

“I would like us to jump out of that box. It doesn’t mean discriminating against foreign workers, but we are the owners of these problems and we would like to solve them.”

Like 80 per cent of the 64 graduates produced so far, Ratha, 22, has transitioned from the course into the field, working as a social worker at Calmette Hospital.

“It’s time for Cambodians to work by themselves, independently,” he said.

According to a recent report by Oxfam, 450 of Cambodia’s 3,492 registered NGOs are international, with NGOs in total spending $600 million to $700 million annually.

Although acknowledging international NGOs still have an important role to play, the report urged foreign players to rethink their roles and consider exit strategies in light of the country’s progress.

“The young generation is aware of their responsibility to change society,” 21-year-old Mao Monyka, who graduated in 2014 and now works with disabled children through Aide et Action, said. “But we need to change the perception of social work. It is not charity; charity is based on sympathy while social work is based on empathy.”

“It is about working to empower people, helping them to understand what they need and how they can get it.”

After RUPP began its course in 2008, another social worker degree was introduced by the National Institute of Social Affairs in 2012. RUPP has also introduced a masters degree in social work.

Kimkanika said the course is still being refined ahead of the transition next year and the department plans to keep the intake level at about 25-30 students to maintain quality and manageability.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • Cambodia purchases 4 million Molnupiravir tablets

    Cambodia has arranged for the purchase of four million US-made Molnupiravir pills – enough to treat 100,000 Covid-19 patients – even though the current rate of daily infections in Cambodia remains low. The medicine will be distributed to state hospitals, pharmacies and private clinics, according to the Samdech

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Is Cambodia’s travel sector in for another cheerless holiday season?

    The travel and tourism sector was heaving back to life as borders started to reopen, promising a festive vibe for the holidays and New Year. But Omicron and other Covid-related issues are threatening to close the year on a bleak note ‘Seems [like] Covid-19 won’

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration