Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have a great honor and pleasure today to joint you all, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen and all the Students, in the inauguration of a school building of the Hun Sen-Bun Rany Wat Phnom High School.
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and my own self, may I extend to you all my sincere congratulation and appreciation for this valuable achievement. In particular, I thank for the efforts made by all education personnels and authorities at all levels in Phnom Penh, in providing full cooperation and performing their respective functions, for the cause of education and human resource development. Indeed, all your works have been producing considerable progress gradually, though we still face many difficulties and challenges that need to be overcome.
This school building presents another new achievement for us in meeting the need of students, who are our successors. This is to ensure that they all have access to education and have proper facility to acquaint their knowledge. In general, all these are the goodwill and the contribution in implementing the government’s policy of “education for all, and all work for education”.
Moreover, may also express my profound gratitude to Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Representatives of Embassies, private sector, civil society and NGOs who present here for being good partners and for your financial and technical support to the education of Cambodia.
We all remember that during the Khmer Rouge regime the education system was fully eliminated. After 7 January 1979, we survived the genocide regime which had never been in the history of the country. By the time, we were very poor and weak all across the country, and left with only the “empty hands” and diseases.
Moreover, we fought to reconstruct and rehabilitate the almost completely damaged economic and social infrastructure with the embargo imposed by the outside world, while to build up defense forces, especially to prevent the return of the genocide for the second time. We had lived for many years in a situation where 50% of our efforts devoted to reconstruction of the country, while the other 50% spent on combating the threats of possible return of the dark and unforgotten past. Thus, with our unified efforts we have been gradually succeeded and gained the support from international community, which we always remember of this invaluable contribution.
In 1980s, we focused on basic education, started from reestablishing schools and training teachers as well as the provision of school supplies, in order to timely meet the demand by students. As a result, the educational system and the quality have been gradually improved. Since then, education and school construction have become a priority of my thrust in building up a fast developed Cambodian society where the citizens are highly educated, culturally-vibrant and healthy in terms of better life, happiness and dignity.
With this passion, in the development of education we had first focused particularly on the quantity of human resource to meet the basic demand, while the quality has been developed and strengthened over time through short term trainings of professional skills in order to response to the needs for education by our children at that time. In the past two decades, we have strived to overcome many challenges and difficulties in the strengthening and development of our education system which has been gradually restored, both in terms of quantity and quality.
So far, the Royal Government has given top priority to the reform and sustainable development of education to build up a quality human resource through basic education and quality within a framework of comprehensive national development. In this sense, the Royal Government is aware that the strengthened education system and training of qualified human resource are important to improve the stock of human resource. This will serves as an element promoting Cambodia to be more competitive, dynamic and efficient in the competition with other far more advanced partners within this fast changing regionalization and globalization.
Moreover, we are also aware that the performance of an economy depends not only on the quantity of human resource it produced, but also on how effective use and management of the human capital. Thus, it requires the creation of an enabling and encouraging environment for the development of human capital along with proper management and use of the resource, as “proper use of human resource, in terms of function, skill and expertise, would bring about optimal productivity”.
Indeed, we are facing the accreditation and the competition issue, in terms of quality, within the context of globalization, especially when Cambodia integrated into ASEAN and becomes a member of WTO. Thus, we need to work hard to ensure that Cambodia education and training of human resource achieve such the quality and standards that our certificates and diploma can be recognized in domestic and foreign labor market. All these efforts are the objective and vision of education, guiding the development of quality human resource, as a motto reads: “Being a good child, good student, good friend and good citizen – to be a successor, a pillar and a strong force of the nation that is consistent to the four basic principles of education: education of knowledge, education of know-how, education of good morality and education of co-existence”.
In this framework, the provision of opportunity for over age children and children that just dropped out the school to enroll in proper schooling system is a huge encouragement and care for students and their parents. Those, who have difficult livelihood to regain opportunity in obtaining knowledge for their future. Furthermore, the integration program needs close cooperation from local authority and educational civil servants at all levels, including all teachers, thus we can succeed our goal in eliminating illiteracy and complete the work of “Education For All” by 2015.
Moreover, it is necessary to provide opportunity for out-school youth who are unable to enrol in the school due to their age or other livelihood conditions. However, they have the right to receive the basic education through other means in order to improve their capacity and get recognition from labor market and society. In fact, education not only refer to trainings at school, but it refers also to education from parents, senior experienced people and general public in the society, who play an important role in strengthening the fabric of our society and advise students to follow a right path. Every Cambodian has an obligation to educate their children to live in peace, good health, intelligence and dignity. This is because an investment in education, health and sustainability for our children would bring a reward, which has a much higher value than the initial investment. Therefore, the education is a key contribution to development and poverty reduction in the society.
Over the past years, on the occasion of launching the National Education Program For All, I have highly appreciated and considered this program as a long-term development strategy of the RGC: “poverty reduction based on the construction of basic foundation of human resource development”, which would ensure sustainable development and equitable distribution of the outcome of economic growth.
Indeed, the long term “National Education Program For All” is an important strategic policy document, which aims to develop a comprehensive long-term socio-economic development of Cambodia. The basic important point of this program is to ensure that all Cambodian children and the youth have an equal opportunity in receiving basic education both inside and outside the system without any discrimination in terms of their living standards, race, color, gender, language, religion, political stand, origin and social status.
Moreover, I have given a full support for Education Strategy Program (ESP) and Education Sector Support Program (ESSP) which set out the objective of promoting 9 year basic education, to encourage children to enroll in primary education, from 1 to 6 grade, to reach 2.4 million; and in secondary education, from 7 to 9 grade, to reach 0.8 million by 2005. All these programs can be achieved successfully as we have implemented it.
Together with the programs and strategies mentioned above, we have laid out and implemented the Priority Action Program (PAP) for the basic education by eliminating schooling fee at the beginning of each school year. It is a strategy to maximize children enrolment into primary school in all 24 cities/provinces in the country including remote provinces, and by paying special attention on the poor, girls and ethnic minorities. As a result, the effectiveness of the implementation of the PAP has been highly appreciated and received satisfaction from teachers and most of the parents.
Thus, in order to implement all these priority actions, the RGC has to increase more investment in the educational sector by providing a proper national budget, and by encouraging a greater participation from private sector and civil society. While making an effort to increase national budget for the education, I believe that in order to continue to effectively implement all these priority actions, we have to further strengthen the partnership in the development of education sector. This is because if there is no additional support from other partners, we would not be able to successfully fulfill our objectives. Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank all donors including the European Union, UNICEFF, Japan, the United State, the French Government and other friendly countries that have actively participated in rehabilitating and developing the education sector in Cambodia, aimed at bringing more progress to all levels including primary, secondary and tertiary. In this regard, I would like to appeal to all donors to continue all these valuable supports, so that Cambodia can develop its capacity and ownership in the implementation of the education sector.
Before I end my remarks, once again I would like to thanks to all teachers, citizen, national institutions, friendly countries, international organizations, NGOs, national and international donors, who have actively contributed to the reconstruction and development of the education sector, in terms of financial resources, equipments and technical assistant, especially the support for children and youth who lack the access to education.
Finally, I wish you all, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the five gems of Buddhist blessing. For the contribution to the education development and intellectual resource development, aimed at eliminating illiteracy and promoting economic and social development of Cambodia at present and the future, I am very pleased to declare the official opening of the school building at Hun Sen Bun Rany Wat Phnom High School.