A prominent high school in Phnom Penh, attended by many children of the capital's
elite, will be among the first to incorporate high technology features such as computers
into its curriculum, school administrators said.
The school received 24 computers from former students living in the United States
in November. It is the first of several schools expected to receive computers donated
from overseas in the next year.
"Computer skills are very important for this generation of students," said
Seng Lime, director of Preah Sisowath high school. "If they don't have computer
skills, it will be difficult for them to find jobs after graduation."
One student at Preah Sisowath high school, Hong Maoinna, 16, said the new computers
were the first he had ever used, though he had seen some on TV.
"I feel so excited and want to study computers from now on because I want to
be a doctor after graduation," he said.
About 20 computers will also be given to Boeng Trabek High School on December 8 by
a group of Singaporean students, said Hieng Sin Hort, deputy director of the school.
He added that other donated computers might be placed in high schools throughout
Cambodia by next year.
Lime wants the Ministry of Education to offer all students computer courses.
"Only 24 computers are not enough, but it's better than nothing," said
Lime. "We are proud because we are the first school to start teaching computer
skills to high school students." Other schools offer computer courses in partnerships
But given the impoverished nature of most schools, lacking even the most basic supplies,
that is unlikely to happen. In the provinces, schools often do not have electricity,
textbooks or reliable teaching staffs. Salaries for teachers still hover around $25
Bun Sok, under secretary of state with the Ministry of Education, said that a technology
education program is both a priority and financial obligation of the Ministry. He
said that the Ministry has already purchased computers for the administrative staff
of several schools, but not yet for the students themselves
"[The funds] depend on the government," he said. "If the government
has a budget to support education, we plan to have computers in high schools."
One mathematics teacher at Preah Sisowath, Chea Som Orn, 48, said he would teach
computer skills even if he did not receive a salary hike.
"I have to help to make [the program] operate," he said. "We have
only computers. How can it work if there is no teacher?"