Ladies and Gentlemen,
My warmest greetings to you all,
I am very pleased and honored to join you all this afternoon to launch the ”National Plan of Education for All, 2003-2015″. On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I express the highest appreciation for the NPEA 2003-2015. I consider this education plan a key component of the long term development strategy of the Royal Government, recognizing that “poverty reduction must start from building the foundation for human resource development” – a strategy that helps ensure sustainable development and equitable distribution of the fruits from economic growth.
The launching of the NPEA 2003-2015 marks a new stage in the continuing efforts of the Royal Government in giving top priority to education sector reforms and sustainable development. Indeed, these are aimed at building our nation’s high-quality human capacity as the strong foundation of a comprehensive national development framework. The Royal Government is fully aware that the strengthening of the educational system and provision of systematic training are crucial for the development of our nation’s human resource base. This is important for enabling Cambodia to compete effectively with other countries in the region that are moving very fast in the trend for international integration. Moreover, we are aware that well-performing economies are those that effectively develop, use and manage their intellectual capital. It is imperative that we create a favorable environment for the development and management of our intellectual resources.
I believe that the effective implementation of the National Plan of Education for All will not only improve the quality of our educational system in providing all with thorough basic knowledge, but it will also enable the expansion of expertise in other sectors critical for absorbing more advanced and higher technology and knowledge. Moreover, increased access to education and training, especially to the basic nine years of schooling is crucial to help the poorest families in Cambodia to overcome poverty and live better lives.
Furthermore, by linking the education strategy with the poverty reduction strategy, and more specifically by consolidating education sector financing with the planning and management of general public expenditures, the Royal Government is better able to implement a truly pro-people, anti-poverty development strategy.
The long term NPEA is an important and strategic policy document for Cambodian development. The NPEA helps ensure that all Cambodian children and youth have an equal opportunity to receive basic education, both formal and non-formal, without any discrimination in relation to status, race, gender, language, religion, political affiliation, birth origin and social status.
Through the NPEA, the Royal Government reiterates its strongest commitment to the recognition and respect for human rights as stated in the UN Declaration on Human Right and other accords and conventions concerning human rights, women’s rights and children’s rights. The NPEA also incorporates the agreements reached at the World Education Forum on Education for All by 2015, in Dhaka, Senegal.
Moreover, the NPEA complements the Education Strategic Plan (ESP) and the Education Sector Support Program (ESSP), given its broad coverage including both adult and child education, informal education, literacy, adult learning, vocational training, inclusive development and protection of children’s rights, with attention on improved quality and gender equity. The NPEA shall also focus on three challenges in non-formal education:
To provide adults and recent drop-outs with opportunities to re-enter formal schools, as included in the ESSP;
To provide adults, disadvantaged and poor people a chance to obtain basic education, so that they acquire adequate knowledge and be recognized by the labor market and society. Given the large number of people in this category, the number of targeted people will be reduced over the medium and long term as the education system is developed and strengthened; and
To provide adult literacy training, especially in the remote, poor areas for vulnerable families and youth, demobilized soldiers and police, isolated communities and indigenous people, helping to build a stable social environment.
Moreover, the Education Plan for All would focus on policy to develop and protect small children who start the education in the kindergartens. We recognize that most Cambodian children receive very little education in the kindergartens. Most children of 6 years age yet are not qualified to schooling due to low development of physical, knowledge and language ability, causing delay in enrolment and high duplication rate in first class. Furthermore, the long term implication of dangers related to birth giving and child nurturing has caused danger to physical and intellectual health of young and adult people.
Indeed, the Royal Government is fully committed to achieving the goal of “education for all”, by ensuring that all children, especially girls, will benefit from nine years of appropriate quality education. The Royal Government will promote gender equality in education and encourage parents to support the education of their daughters as well as their sons. Scholarships for girls from poor families, especially from the rural areas, to go through from sixth class to seventh class will help them continue their schooling to secondary and post secondary school. The long-term strategy is to ensure equitable enrollment in secondary and post secondary school.
The goal of “Education for All” also requires us to provide priority to the poorest students. Moreover, the NPEA encourages the participation of the private sector in education services, while the Royal Government is mandated to ensure education quality through the setting of standards at the best regional and international levels, regulation and monitoring.
It is recognized that the development of a high-quality labor force is crucial to encourage foreign direct investment, particularly as Cambodia has been rapidly opening up to the regional and world economy, and most especially as Cambodia anticipates membership in the World Trade Organization later in 2003.
The Royal Government recognizes that public spending on education is not yet sufficient to fully implement our sector strategies, policies and investments. Thus the Royal Government is exerting efforts to encourage investment in education through steady increases in the national budget for education, mobilization of official donor assistance and the encouragement of private sector and civil society participation. The Royal Government has also launched the priority action plan to facilitate budget disbursement to education, with the goal of improved educational quality at all levels.
The increase of education sector spending clearly reflects the pro-poor policy of the Royal Government, especially in the steady increase in salaries of teachers and the provision of schools and school equipment. The guarantee of adequate support for teachers and schools is the best and most effective measure to improve education quality. Increased public spending on education also reduces the cost of education to parent, especially the poor.
In order to promote the successful implementation of the national plan of “education for all”, I would like to provide some concrete recommendations, as follows:
First, I urge the national committee on “education for all” to continue to prepare a concrete plan of action for implementation;
Second, the national plan of “education for all” must be disseminated to all levels, from national level down to commune – sangkat level;
Third, I urge all municipal and provincial authorities to also organize local committees on “education for all” at district – khan, commune – sangkat level by this year 2003.
Fourth, the standards and criteria underlying the control of quality of schools and training institutions must be completed and seriously implemented in order to facilitate education sector development.
Today, as we launch of this national plan of “education for all”, may I underline the Royal Government’s firm commitment in ensuring the provision of sufficient resources for education and training. We are very thankful to all of Cambodia’s development partners for their support to education. We also request that regional and international support should be increased to meet the very substantial requirements for NPEA implementation.
In closing, I congratulate and praise the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and other concerned ministries, donors and representatives of the private sector, civil society and NGOs who contributed to education sector activities and programs. The MOEYS has exerted hard efforts and proactive cooperation to prepare the NPEA, and took pains to encourage continued partnership in the coordination and streamlining of the various programs aimed at the successful education sector plan, leading to sustained poverty reduction in Cambodia.
Finally, I would like to give all of you who present in this Launching Ceremony, the five gems of Buddhist wishes. May I now declare the official Launch of the National Education Plan for All, 2003-2015.