Distinguished International and National Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Today, it is a great honor and pleasure for me to participate in this ceremony to present the diplomas signifying the graduation of the third, fourth and fourteenth batch of 885 graduates. I am also happy to officially inaugurate the new school building containing 20 classrooms of the National Institute of Management. This event is another achievement contributing to the development of human resources in Cambodia. We all take another step in building our country and in ensuring that all Cambodians share in progress.
I congratulate all of you who are receiving your diplomas today! I am extremely pleased to share this important day with you. I am sure you have all worked hard and studied very intensively to deserve your diplomas and degrees.On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I express great appreciation for the commendable performance of the management, staff and all the faculty members of the National Institute of Management. Your whole-hearted efforts have again contributed to the development of the human resources of Cambodia. Your work has transferred valuable knowledge, educated and trained our youth, and is helping to create a socially connected, educationally advanced and culturally vibrant Cambodian society. Such is the foundation of a sustainable, productive and globally competitive Cambodian economy.
Let me add that this five-floor school building which we shall inaugurate today bears witness to the success of the joint efforts of the NIM’s management, faculty and staff. This new facility will not only ensure the continuing services of the NIM, but also enables the broadening of the NIM’s capacity for training. We should all be proud of today’s graduation and inauguration, since these positive achievements of the development and policy agenda of the Royal Government. Human resource development is crucial to the socio-economic development of our country, especially with regard to the reduction of poverty and the improvement of the living standards of our people.
Today’s event is also clear evidence of our educational investment strategy which enables us to build the physical as well as the human capacity to serve all of the young people from all over our country who complete their high school training and are then ready for university-level education. This achievement is made increasingly possible because of the flexible and innovative ideas of the management and staff of the NIM in implementing the government’s development policies.On behalf of our people and the Royal Government of Cambodia, I take this opportunity to thank all friendly countries, the international community, national and international organisations that have been making valuable contributions and technical assistance to the reform and improvement of Cambodian education. Thank you for providing much needed technical and physical assistance, including teaching tools and materials, overseas training for teachers and other educators, student scholarships abroad, and especially for helping design programs for higher education in Cambodia that respond to the need of national and regional labour market.
As I have stated on many occasions, it is our government’s policy on human resource development that our country should not only just recover from the losses suffered through three decades of prolonged civil war and help resolve current unemployment. Our strategy is to ensure that our human resources shall serve as the foundation for the achievement of our long-term vision for investments, competitiveness and development in Cambodia in the 21st century. Human resource development is also crucial as Cambodia faces the increasingly critical imperative of opening up to the world through international integration in the context of the rapid globalisation process where knowledge and information dominates.
Of course, we all realize that if the higher education institutions cannot ensure quality education, then their graduates will face double burdens upon graduation: they cannot compete in the labor market and the labor market itself is slow to grow due to weakness in the economy. Many thousands of students are graduated each year, and many cannot find jobs in the aftermath. Increasing unemployment and disequilibrium results in the Cambodia’s labor market as more and more students are graduated while the market still faces the shortage of qualified human resource.
In this era of knowledge and information, the physical, intellectual and mental endowments of humans – strength and skills, knowledge, expertise, creativity and innovation will become increasingly crucial to transforming economic potentials and comparative advantages of the nation into real competitiveness. Without highly qualified human resources, any country will be unable to add value to production for the benefit of society. This is why the Royal Government during its second term of office has considered education, especially human resource development and efficient utilisation of human capital, as one of its top priorities. The Royal Government of Cambodia is continually setting out policies aimed at improving the quality of education at the university level. I have asked the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to establish an evaluation and monitoring mechanism for schooling quality. Such monitoring will help us improve the academic curricula and programs to the level that ensures responsiveness to labor market needs – both in terms of quantity as well as quality. The government has also given high priority to the improvement in the quality of vocational education that helps to transform Cambodian youths into skilled and efficient workers.
The strengthening of education quality is crucial foundation for industrialization of Cambodia – which demands the skills for producing high quality, high-tech goods.In this regard, I welcome the proposal to establish a doctorate program in the National Institute of Management, as the director has just reported. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports should consider this proposal seriously, paying close attention to international cooperation with established foreign universities in order to help ensure quality.Indeed, local as well as international partnerships greatly improve the quality of education, especially higher education. Exchange training programs and the sharing experiences and resources among schools, universities, ministries and other organisations will be crucial aspects of this process.
You all know that the government has implemented the policy of liberalisation and private sector investment in education. Some progress can already be clearly seen. The number of private schools and universities has grown as fast as mushrooms. The task now is to ensure quality. Thus, once again I ask the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to focus on planning, regulative administration, technical and financial assistance and improving the control and monitoring system of the performance of all schools — public or private. At the same time, strategies for education, vocational and technical training must be developed to ensure the consistency with the targets of our socio-economic development. The Ministry should make every effort to develop a master plan for the development of higher education as quickly as possible, and this plan should be subject to open discussion by all stakeholders.
A major concern of the government is the status of students from poor families and from remote areas. To help solve the problem, since 2001 we have implemented the priority action plan for higher education to provide incentives to teachers and scholarships to poor students. The government will set out more measures to improve the system for disbursement and management of funds for education in the coming year. In addition, I welcome the opening of the National Institute of Management in Battambang. This provincial branch will serve many more students in the remote provinces.
Today, you are very proud of your accomplishments in your life and deserve to be awarded with B.A. degrees in management, accounting, marketing and tourism. You are the new technocrats ready to enter the labor market and to contribute to building and development of our nation. I urge you make every effort to use of your knowledge and training to contribute to our country’s development. Enter the labor market quickly, without needing to wait for a job that exactly meets your background. Gain work experience as soon as possible and continue to learn from new job. This will prepare you for responsibilities and positions that fit your preferences more exactly. In addition, I encourage you all to explore entrepreneurship.
Set up your own business – this is a big challenge, but also very rewarding to both yourself and your country.In addition, I would like you to remember that the knowledge you receive today is appropriate for the time being, but it will be less appropriate overtime in the future when science and technology are expanding and progressing endless. Therefore, it is important that you continue your study and research and take this as an endless process which requires polishing and retraining of new skills and know-how. I hope some of you will take the effort later to further your studies at the level of masteral and doctorate degrees.[Start of Ad-lib Comments
… Let me add a few comments. We are now having a dry season within the rainy season. Sitting here we all feel very hot, while our farmers are facing with great disaster due to the lack of rain and the increasing level of flood in the Mekong River. Despite the heat, I wish to share some ideas with all of you, all 855 of you, before you all leave the institute.
… Just now I was talking about creating jobs etc. but what I wish to advise you today is that you all have to actively search for jobs and do not wait for jobs to search for you. This point has been practically important in our experience. Not only people who lack knowledge and know-how, but those with education, some technical experts, and also a number of Government officials, high-ranking official included, seem to have yet understood what searching for jobs means. They seem to sit and wait for the jobs/works to come find them. While waiting, they say they have got nothing to do. I find this idea unacceptable as in such a wide world, there should be plenty of jobs.
… As you have finished your study, and some of you have also attained master degrees, some of you seem to have concerns about getting jobs. It is correct to have the concern because we have to go looking for jobs like we say we have to go looking for money and not wait for money to come to us. In some case I also find it hard to understand because some of our officials in positions in the Government saying they have no work to do. Are they waiting for the works to come sit on their desks? Like in the present time, we could observe that how many Governors, Government officials go to the villages to help deal with drought. Some might go to Karaoke instead.
… Yes Karaoke parlors have been instructed to shut down. But it seems only the signboards that are brought down but the activities inside are still in operation. In Phnom Penh as well as in other provinces, those parlors have continued to operate disguising themselves as restaurants. As far as this issue is concerned could we ask those Governors why they do not act on them. Do they wait for the Prime Minister to tell them what to do and when to do the works? This is one example. Some people have requested for instruction of order from the Prime Minister once again. If the Prime Minister has to give his order over and again, why should we have so many Government-paid officials?
… In the cause of going to find jobs yourselves, it is very important to bear in mind that not all jobs suit expertise that you have from the universities. Take for example you learn accounting but out there you are offered a job that is nothing to do with accounting. Would you accept it or would not? You should accept it and starting from there you learn more from your work. More importantly, you have to remember that no companies would reform their structures to fit your skills or expertise. We also do not have to change our diplomas but to accept what is offered.
… What is more important still is the fact that we could create jobs to self-employ. Some of the students are sent to the universities by their parents and after their studies they have to help their parents to manage their family business. This would eventually contribute to increase of their family capital. Aside from this, please keep in mind that science and technology are making fast advancement and this requires your day-to-day follow-up and updates. Please do not reduce your study efforts even when you finished your studies at the university.
… In terms of career ladder, I wish to say that you all have to move step by step and do not wish to have any person to get you installed. If you were to depend on someone’s power to get you installed, your position would not be stable. Once you are moving up the ladder, you should refrain from removing the ladder on which you climb. What I wanted to advise our graduates today is that you all have to observe the surrounding environment for career development but not to get yourself installed by somebody with extra power. Get yourself installed by own capacity and you will not easily fall. On the contrary if you are getting helps from somebody and you lack the capability to fulfil the jobs, you would stand a chance of being disappointed…
[Back to the prepared text]
Once again, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to donor countries, international community, and all national and international organisations, all educators who have actively contributed to the rehabilitation and building of our educational system in Cambodia.
Let me end by extending to you all, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the five gems of Buddhist wishes and my personal wish for your prosperity and happiness. I especially wish all graduates good health and success in their career.