Venerable Buddhist Monks,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honor and pleasure for me to attend the ceremony to officially deliver certificates to the sixth and seventh batches of graduates from the Institute of Human Resource Development. On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) and my own behalf, I am extremely pleased to congratulate all the graduates who have done a great, albeit difficult job of intensive studies, to get this graduation certificate. This is to certify that all of you have performed your obligation to become an educated citizen of Cambodia.On behalf of the RGC, I greatly appreciate the commendable contribution of the Institute of Human Resource Development to the help the Royal Government attain its objective of creating a socially connected, educationally advanced, and culturally vibrant society in Cambodia. Such is the foundation of a sustainable, productive and globally competitive Cambodian economy.
Training and education has become very important for the society and its role is beyond developing human resources as a factor of production. It reminds us that we must upgrade the skills of the human person not just to make him more capable of increasing profits for the state or the company but, above all, to improve the life of the person and his family, to enhance their dignity through work and honest income, and to enrich society as a community of human beings. The Royal Government looks at human resource development (HRD), including vocational and technical training, from this point of view. Human resource development, of course, is essentially a national responsibility, sometimes with international help.
In this sense, the Royal Government gives special attention to enabling Cambodian people to gain more skills and expertise. We conduct skills competition among the youth. We are forming a network of skills training institutions. We are promoting the mutual recognition of skills among the member states in the ASEAN in order to improve workers’ mobility within the region and thus their chances for employment. We share experiences in helping workers acquire skills in information technology. We are setting up a monitoring system for labor markets to anticipate changes in the demand for labor.
Together we advocate the inclusion of human resource development at the core of national development plans. Thus, it requires us to pay attention to strengthening the quality of high education. It is my conviction that the human resource development is vital not only to the national development but also to the regional integration and cooperation. This is why HRD occupies a central place in the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI). The IAI is the program adopted by ASEAN’s leaders as the principal instrument for closing the development gap between ASEAN’s older and newer members. The program has four components – infrastructure, information and communications technology, regional economic integration, and human resource development.
The government has also to focus on teaching of English – ASEAN’s working language. To boost education we should also look at other possibilities, such as creating a network of educational and vocational training centers and for distance learning programs. Of course, the use of ICT for commerce – or e-commerce – requires the training of sellers and buyers and the service providers that are the link between them. For government transactions – or e-government – government officials and citizens doing business with government have to be trained.The RGC thus considers human resources to be of central importance to all its purposes. Indeed, this importance stands out even if we consider it only from the economic standpoint. This is especially and increasingly so in the processes and development of a “knowledge economy”. It is so in a global economy in which services play a larger and larger role. Investors invariably enter the availability of adequate human resources into their calculations.
One of the first questions investors ask in deciding whether to make their investments — and where – is this: will I have enough trained, or at least trainable, people to have a good chance for my investment to succeed? We can truly say that a country’s development and progress largely depend on the availability and quality of its human resources, people with the right skills and the right attitude. However, human resource development transcends the merely economic reasoning. At the most fundamental level, it is essential not only to enhance people’s chances of getting jobs and raising their incomes but for the fulfillment of a man’s or a woman’s human potential. Work has everything to do with human dignity and self-respect.
Furthermore, human resource development also has a profound social and political dimension. HRD, even vocational training and technical education, produces an enlightened citizenry. Since higher incomes and a degree of urbanization result from it, HRD builds up the middle class. It thus lays the necessary foundation for effective, participatory democracy. With their minds and discernment sharpened, as they become more capable of articulating their interests in an organized way, people are better able and more qualified to participate in their own governance.
Thus, if our objectives for each country are a polity that is both democratic and effective, sustainable progress for its economy, stability for its society, and a life of dignity for its people, education and training are the indispensable endeavor. This is why I think Cambodia is doing the right thing regarding education and training and in the context of poverty reduction and social development. Education and training is the candle of hope lighting the darkness of political inefficacy, poverty, and human degradation. They are a lot better and more effective than cursing the darkness.
I am convinced that all today’s graduates will make ample contributions to this process in order to achieve our common objectives of building up highly-skilled and specialized human capital. It will allow us to strengthen Cambodia’s comparative advantages in this globalized world. Taking this rare opportunity, may I share with you all my own views, which hopefully could be instrumental in developing the vision and policies for the education sector in Cambodia in general, and for the development of human resources especially teacher training, in particular. In response to the above policies, the RGC knows what needs to be done – and nothing speaks louder than financial commitments for the development of those sectors.
Hence, considerable efforts have been deployed by the RGC to increase investment in this sector by increasing budget allocations for education, mobilizing foreign aid and encouraging contribution from the society. Over the last four years, the RGC increased more than two folds the spending for education from CR 102 billion in 1998 to CR223 billion in 2001. In 2002, the RGC is committed to increase education budget to CR292 billion. Thus, only over a period of five years education spending will increase more than threefold. With an increase in spending, I want to see an improvement in teaching quality as well.
Increased public spending on education will adopt clearly defined pro poor policies, in particular attention is given to the gradual increase in teacher’s salary to the extent allowed by the budget, provide schools with all necessary means and materials. Better availability of means and instructional materials to teachers and schools assures quality improvement in the country’s education sector. Moreover, all these measures are designed to reduce direct and indirect costs to parents, which constitute a major impediment to providing poor students an access to have better education.Human resource development is a daunting task, time-consuming and capital intensive.
At both international and regional for a I have appealed for strengthening cooperation in human resource development and to consider this area as the top priority on the agenda of ASEAN and ASEAN plus three, which would contribute to the reduction of the gap between new and old members. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all donors, such as the European Union (EU), UNICEF, Japan and France for their active involvement in the rehabilitation and development of primary, secondary and tertiary education in Cambodia. Apart from the concepts and policies that I have raised earlier, may I humbly, contribute the following ideas and recommendations to strengthen the education sector.
First, continue to implement government’s education policies, notably universal education, modernization of education, link education to market demand and promote youth and sport-related activities.
Second, gradually upgrading teaching quality by improving curriculum, textbooks, teaching methodology and equipment for teaching and training.
Third, improve further the educational infrastructure; especially establish a state-of-the-art, computerized library, which is capable to collect all data and documents for research purposes.
Fourth, while promoting Khmer literature and culture actions should be taken to teaching foreign languages, such as English and French. Khmer should be Cambodia’s official language, while English and French should be introduced as second or third language. Language is how knowledge is transmitted. The acquisition of language skills plays an essential role in the knowledge-production process.
Fifth, Computer literacy should be widely promoted among Cambodian schoolchildren and students. At present, computer literacy is an important medium of communications and a means of doing business and investment in any part of the world, especially it is instrumental for the accumulation of knowledge and experiences in management. Taking this opportunity, I wish to address to the graduates to whom certificates will be delivered shortly.
Today you are honored to receive a graduation certificate to certify your life-long profession. It is a historic day in your life. You are the hope of the Royal Government and the whole society. You know for sure that the unexhausted resource for a country development is human resource. Indeed, a real human resource is not the one recognized in the paper or diploma; but it is the one with knowledge, skill and expertise, efforts and innovation, as well as moral quality. They are keen to help the disadvantaged and the younger generation without discrimination, and continuously develop themselves to catch up with the endless progress in science and technology.
In conclusion, I would like to extend to you all, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the five gems of Buddhist wishes and my personal wish for your prosperity and happiness. I wish all graduates good health and success in their career. I thank you all for your kind attention.