Ladies and Gentlemen,
In this joyful occasion, I am very pleased to join you all to inaugurate the Por Prek Primary School in Phnom Srouch District, Kampong Speu Province and other 100 primary school buildings in remote provinces across the country.
Indeed, this inauguration is coincided with the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Cambodia and Japan and the Japan-ASEAN Cultural Exchange Year, – another new historical event among many important events in the strengthening and expanding the solidarity, friendship and cooperation between Cambodia and Japan.
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, Cambodian people and myself, may I warmly welcome the participation in inaugurating these schools, which are the generous contribution by the Nippon Foundation for Cambodian people. The contributions represent a good response in effectively and timely meeting the dire needs for social and economic development in Cambodia, particularly in promoting the capacity building of our human resource. This also meets the greatly needs and desire for education by our children, our national successors, – ensuring access to education and good school facilities for all the children, so that they are able to learn and acquire knowledge for their future career and personal life as well as for serving the country’s interest, effectively and with dignity. In sum, all these are invaluable contributions to the cause of rehabilitation and development of Cambodia’s education and to the government’s efforts in reducing the poverty among people in rural areas.
Moreover, I would like to indicate that Cambodia is privileged to receive, for the first time, such the grant of primary schools equipped with solar-power computers. This contributes to developing knowledge of our students’ computer literacy in this era of information technology. With the leading assistance by Japanese government and people, including bridges, roads, schools, hospitals, irrigation systems and many other humanitarian aids, the support by Nippon Foundation this time does make Cambodian people to accept with deep gratitude and appreciation.
I listened with great interest to the words of Mr. Sasakawa and felt touched by the efforts made by the Nippon Foundation and its partners in helping Cambodian people in the socio-economic development, helping us to recover from more than two decade civil wars and enjoy peace, stability and better life again.
The priority given to providing aids to people living in the regions of former Khmer Rouge’s strongholds is right and I support the decision as they are still suffering from land mines and malaria. Thus, I urge all the donors to intensify their efforts even further. Our poverty reduction programs should target the really poor regions and people. Thus, I would like to thank the Nippon Foundation for the support. In my opinion, supports for education are key to poverty reduction and development of the nation. “The knowledge you are acquiring are permanent that could not lost or stolen”.
As we receive this great and valuable achievement, I recall our meeting with Mr. Sasakawa at the Ottani Hotel in Tokyo on 26 February 1999, where I made a request to him to help build schools for Cambodian people and he agreed. Now, it is finally that his pledge comes true that we see the building before us! Another gesture which is worth to be noticed is that, in November 2000, one day before Mr. Sasakawa departed for Cambodia, there was an attack by the Cambodian Fighters for Freedom (CFF) in Phnom Penh. He and his delegation were warned not to come to Cambodia. However, Mr. Sasakawa and his delegation insisted to come to Cambodia to inaugurate a school in Pailin. This clearly showed his firm commitment in helping Cambodian people. I highly appreciate this and consider you our good friend, the rare friend of Cambodia!
In the past decade, especially during the second term of the Royal Government since 1998, thousands of schools have been constructed. The living standard of teachers and the quality of education have become the top priority of the Royal Government in implementing its reform on education, aimed at developing a socially connected, highly educated and culturally vibrant Cambodian society, – the most important factor for improving productivity and competitiveness of Cambodia’s human resource in the globalized world.
The Royal Government recognizes that general education at primary and secondary levels is of utmost importance for sustainable development. Even more important is the comprehensive pedagogical training for teachers, making them adequately qualified and becoming models in every activity of national endeavors. Indeed, at any circumstances especially during this globalization epoch any nation may afford to loss or benefit from regional and international cooperation, depending on the quality and amount of human capital of its young generation which is instrumental to the nation’s resource.
Moreover, strengthening general education since primary school instills in the people the sense of responsibility, morale, good demeanor, ambition in education. It gives people in-depth general knowledge and provides opportunity for skill development in many other areas, which is critical to get higher level training and professional expertise. We also consider that secondary education builds up the foundation for tertiary education, which is critical in promoting human resource development, – ensuring the country’s comparative advantage and competitiveness in the knowledge based economy. Thus, the Royal Government is conscious that quality teaching must be a central element of any strategy to achieve educational success for all students.
Based on this philosophy, the Royal Government has set out and steadfastly implemented the reform of public finance and demobilization program, aimed at increasing revenue and shifting spending priorities to social sectors especially the education and health. At the same time, the Royal Government has made its utmost efforts to mobilize foreign assistance and has set out policies and measures to encourage participation from private sector and civil society in this sector.
Dear students, you are very fortunate to get new building for your school, which is a valuable contribution by Nippon Foundation. Before, you never have such good facility like this. Thus, I urge you to work hard in your study, listening to the good advice of your parents and teachers. Do have a good care of your school and the facility as they are very expensive and easily broken apart. I hope the students in this school and the other 100 schools, which are the donation of Nippon Foundation, will take their efforts to learn hard and smart, thus you will not disappoint the donors, the Royal Government and your parents!
Once again, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia may I thank the Nippon Foundation and other partners for the valuable assistance. We consider this an effective contribution to the rehabilitation and development of Cambodia, growing very quickly to catch up with more developed countries in the region and the world.
At the same time, I wish also to thank all donor countries, NGOs, national and international organizations as well as all the generous people who have contribute to the cause of education and HRD in Cambodia. Finally, I would like to wish all of you who present in this Ceremony, the Peace, Happiness and Progress!