Dr Mengly J. Quach, Founder, Chairman and CEO of the Mengly J Quach Education (MJQE) said students in Cambodia need a more focussed direction in learning so that more will graduate as professionals to contribute to the Kingdom’s economy.
As Cambodia continues to record steady economic growth, the country’s human capital market will demand more professionals from the science, technology, engineering and mathematics related professions.
However, Dr Mengly believes the private sector has to work with the government to create more white-collar jobs to be ready for well-trained graduates.
He said university students should focus on one field of study before considering taking up another bachelor’s degree or post-graduate course.
“Some of them are studying for double-degrees, which might prevent them to really excel in one specific field because it is difficult to perform well in different areas of higher education at the same time. We need more specialists (professionals) not generalists,” he told The Post.
Currently, the majority workforce in Cambodia is made up of low-skilled labour, but the Kingdom needs to transform into a “white-collar economy” to reach a higher level of economic development.
Knowing this need, MJQE has made an effort to strengthen students’ interest and skills in mathematics by collaborating with the International Abacus Mathematics Association (IAMA) Cambodia to add mental arithmetic as one of its optional subjects in school.
Mental arithmetic is proven to potential of our brain. Students are observed to have better concentration, self-confidence and memory as well as critical and faster thinking. Dr Mengly said that the mental arithmetic class will train students on how to apply their mathematical skills, which could be of much help in their higher education.
MJQE currently has 11,500 students and 1,400 teachers and employees. This education company runs the American Intercon School (AIS) which offers general education from pre-kindergarten to Grade12; and Aii Language Center (Aii) which offers a series of English, Chinese and Thai language training programmes and TOEFL preparation course.
“We have also signed an MoU with Auswin International Group Co Ltd (education consultant) to provide a one-stop service that includes overseas studies consultation and visa application to help students further their studies abroad,” said Dr Mengly.
He added that MJQE has received many requests to set up school campuses in the provinces,but plans to meet this demand is currently blocked by the main challenge of funding. He urges international funds and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to provide more supports and long-term funding for private schools in Cambodia.
“We are providing high quality education in Phnom Penh, but we hope there will be more funding for us to expand our reach to the rural provinces.”
Speaking on areas for improvement in the education system, Dr Mengly said there should be an efficient vocational training structure for high school leavers who failed the passing grade in their Grade 12 Exam (BAC II).
He urged the private sector to appreciate local talents and create the relevant job opportunities for them. This will prevent local university graduates and high school leavers from migrating overseas to countries such as South Korea, Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries in search for jobs.
Dr Mengly said that improving the education system and the society is an ongoing process in Cambodia, but faster progress can be achieved through the cooperation between government and the private sector.
He concluded that one important area to look into is the gap of education quality between Phnom Penh and the rural provinces.