Development of science and research capabilites key to better teacher training and access to information, but financial constraints keep the bar low
Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Participants at a seminar on Wednesday discuss strategies for bringing science and technology to developing nations.
LOCAL officials say the adoption of new technologies could be an engine of growth for Cambodia, following a gathering of representatives from eight Asian developing nations for a science and technology workshop in Phnom Penh this week.
The three-day workshop, organised by the Department of Scientific Research in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and sponsored by Unesco, focused on recent international trends in science and technology, and their potential application in developing countries.
Phoeung Sakona, a secretary of state at the Education Ministry, said the workshop - which included delegates from Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Nepal, Vietnam and Brunei - would establish a system to monitor technology implementation in developing countries.
"We have to understand that the development of each country is directly in keeping with scientific progress and accuracy in that country," she said.
Chan Roath, director of the Department of Science at the Education Ministry, said science and technology could be of much use in the education sector, where it could reduce teacher-training time and improve the quality of educational qualifications.
He said that Cambodia has already begun to broaden science and technology into the education sector with the support of NGOs, including the Phnom Penh-based Open Institute.
Although the progress has been rapid over the last five years, Chan Roath said introducing technology was still a step-by-step process - starting in the capital and the major provincial cities - and that there was not enough money to pay the high price of new information and computer technologies.
Dang Duy Thinh, vice president of the National Institute for S&T Policy Studies at Vietnam's Ministry of Science and Technology, said the adoption of such technologies was the main engine of future development - especially for countries lagging behind the developed world.
"I think Cambodians' capacity for S&T will be very good in future, allowing them to use new technologies to spur development," he said, adding that the development of human resources in the sector was an important first step. "In order to master S&T, Cambodia must develop its human resources in this sector and turn imported technology into a sustainable one of their own."
Chea Savuth, an engineering lecturer at the Cambodian Institute of Technology, said that the Kingdom must have better data management and research systems.
"We can't take research from developed countries and apply it in developing countries because [research] can be used differently in each country," he said, adding that Cambodian students still faced severe financial constraints. "Presently, Cambodian students have the ability to run along with modern technology. However, we still have limitations in research due to the lack of financial support and the cost of utilities, which is high."
Teruo Jinnai, Unesco representative in Cambodia, said the workshop was an excellent opportunity for policymakers to share ideas and strategies to promote science and technology development in emerging economies.