– Your Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests,
– Dear Participants!
Today I have a great honor and pleasure to participate with you all in the Closing of Stock-Taking Conference on Education Youth and Sports Affairs for 2006-2007 and Directions Setting for New Academic Year 2007-2008 being organized by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS).
The previous academic year 2006-2007 has left some outstanding achievements and experiences which are the lessons learned for better implementation of the next academic year through improving the weaknesses and enhancing the strengths in order to improve the quality and efficiency of education under the comprehensive reforms of the Royal Government of the third legislative of the National Assembly.
On behalf of the Royal Government and myself, I would like to express my sincere compliment and thanks Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen who are the MoYES’s staffs, professors, lecturers, teachers, parents, communities, NGOs, Civil Society, generous people and local authorities all over the country for paying attention and fulfilling their respective roles and responsibilities in the previous academic year for a right cause of educating our children and developing human resources in order to protect, rehabilitate and develop our nation; even though we face a lot of difficulties and shortages that need to be addressed.
Through this meeting, I would like to extend my greetings to all teaching staff and officials who are busy in the new academic year in all cities and provinces and wish them good health, happiness and success.
At the same time, I would like to take this opportunity to thank development partners and, national and international NGOs who have made active contribution to the rehabilitation, building, and development of education, youth and sport sector in Cambodia through providing aids and all kinds of support, either in the form of materials, finance, or techniques.
Clearly, these efforts and active contribution are the targets and vision of education policy which will lead in quality human resource development, in accordance with the objective of education policy which is “being educated to be good children, good students, good friends, and good citizens” and in accordance with the 4 fundamentals of education that are “being educated for knowledge, know-how, moral, and living harmoniously”
In the new and future academic years, our challenge is to improve the education quality which must be balanced and appropriate with the expansion of education quantity, the dual targets of education that cannot be separated. In this sense, it is clear that we need to improve all required teaching and learning conditions first before we can improve the education quality. Furthermore, if we are to expand the education quantity, we need to build more schools and employ more teachers as the number of children going to school increases from year to year and the market as well a society requires quality.
In the past, both in-the-system and out-of-system education have been pushed vigorously at all levels in the country in order to enable and provide opportunity to all children of our people to receive equitable and quality education, at least we must ensure that they completed primary schools or basic 9 years of schooling by linking to professional illiterate movements and in accordance with education principle for all of us.
In particular, as raised by H.E. Senior Minister Kol Pheng, in order to address the demand for education of our children that are increasing from year to year, we must give great attention to the expansion of existing infrastructure such as building nearby schools and dormitories for poor students, especially to provide opportunity to female students to study close to their parents. Furthermore, we have had a principle to build lower secondary schools on the land of existing large primary schools to implement the 9-year-basic education program on places, namely 6 years for primary education and 3 years for lower secondary education “6+3”, this caused last year enrollment rate to reach 3,387,310 in which 1,574,900 are female students receive education from a total of 94,641 teachers, and female teachers amount to 35,953. Besides, at higher education level, there are 66 public and private educational institutions, 26 are public and 40 are private institutes. There are 92,340 bachelor degree students studying at all private and public institutes, in that 300 students received scholarship from public institutions. At the same time, in 2007, 14,397 students have successfully completed their studies from public and private institutions.
I highly appreciate and consider this achievement as another strong foundation of the MoEYS and the Royal Government at the end of the third legislative of the National Assembly. This achievement pushes the 2007-2008 and the future academic years to develop further both in quality and quantity to respond to the need of children that increase from year to year, and to the meet the market and social demand for quality education.
This year’s MoEYS meeting is an important occasion and opportunity for all key education officials to meet and exchange ideas, knowledge and experience. This will allow them to find a better way to develop education, youth and sport sector to respond to the new demand of socio-economic development and to ensure that the education quality in Cambodia meet the regional standard. The meeting also showed the difficulties and remaining problems which reflect our weakness and obligate us to improve, address and deal with.
With respect to today meeting, I would like to agree with the stocktaking report regarding the achievement on education, youth and sport affairs for 2006-2007 and directions setting for new academic year 2007-2008. At the same time, I would like to provide some recommendations for further consideration and implementation in 2007-2008 at provincial and municipal level during the stage of educational reform for quality as followed:
First. Education sector remains the priority sector and learning still stands as the strategy for poverty reduction, putting simply, the state still has the obligation to provide all people with education and training through both in-system and out-system educational programs in order to develop human resources with quality and quantity who are capable, fully equipped with knowledge, know-how and morals as the expected goal of education and manner of good citizens that can be used to serve the family and social benefits, and to succeed in protecting, building and developing our nation.
Second. Education policy, education strategic plan and education supportive program adopted by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports require further efforts within which great attention should be given to education for children and youth remaining out of school in all provinces and cities to ensure that they are enrolled equitably as enshrined in chapter 6 article 68 of the constitution of the Royal Government of Cambodia that all children should have basic education at least by completing primary school or 9 years of schooling with priority given to female and poor students in order to prevent them from exploitation, using drug, prostitution, creating chaos and committing violence in society which leads to serious obstacles and concerns for all of us. To cope with these problems, I would like to appeal all compatriots that school alone never solve the matter, it requires the participation of parents, guardians, families, communities and authorities at all levels all over the country.
Third. Both in-system and out-system education must move in parallel and complement each other to meet the Millennium Development Goal, at the meeting in Daka, Senegal in 2000 which required each member country to increase literacy rate to at least 50% by 2015 within the framework of education for all and all for education.
Fourth. The meeting should understand that we are in a situation when all countries are racing for quality of education and the value of degrees. This requires all schools and educational institutions at all levels, both public and private nation-wide, to improve the quality and efficiency of teaching and learning, to raise the value of degrees and vocational training in order to ensure capable workforce of high standard recognized by regional and local labor market.
Fifth. As recommendation for leaders and the responsibility of people at all levels, to promote youth education activity in all fields of sports including people sport (keila morhachun) because all of these are indispensable components of education among the 5 components of education including, moral education, intellectual education, physical education and sport, work and art education which we have been implementing since 1980s because with good moral, solid knowledge and good health we can effectively fulfilled our jobs both in the family and social context.
To succeed in carrying out these 5 recommendations, I would like to remind all educational stakeholders to satisfy the 5 current needs as follow: (1). The need for supply of tangible materials to all schools, (2). The need for qualified teachers, (3). The need for strengthening the quality and effectiveness of education that can meet the demand of labor market, (4). The need for raising informatics and telecommunication literacy, and (5). The need for harmonization of tertiary education system since the current higher education system is rather isolated and unsmoothed whose managements are under different ministries and institutions , not only under the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports alone. Human resources, financial resources and basic facilities are still limited. The communication between public and mushrooming private educational institutions remains loose and there is no real cooperation.
These are just some of the additional guidelines on what I have often raised during various meetings for institutions and ministries both from the public and private sector with a single objective to protect, rehabilitate and develop the country toward prosperity in this new era when we are integrating ourselves into the regional community and the world.
Indeed, during the last decade Cambodia has experienced many changes not only in terms of political and security scenarios but also the changes in socio-economic scenarios. Political stability, peace, and security are prerequisite conditions for Cambodia in achieving its socio-economic potential. In fact, political stability has opened up many new opportunities for Cambodia to develop its socio-economy for the people from all walks of life. Hence, our prime objective is to make further reform in all sectors and fields in order to upgrade our people’s living standard, raise the salary for government officials and teachers, strengthen the culture of peace and national reconciliation, promote democracy and the respect for human right and dignity, nurturing safety, security and stability and to maintain social order, improve good-governance to promote the public sector’s efficiency and to promote cooperation for country development.
Besides, as for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports as the leading ministry in developing human resources with quality, through this meeting, I would like to once again praise and highly value the management and officials at all levels, teachers, professors, staffs, families, communities, national and international generous people, national and international organizations, and all the development partners for having closely cooperated with one another and fulfilling their respective roles and responsibilities to end the academic year of 2006-2007 with success like previous years. As for the new academic year of 2007-2008, I would like to call for more funding and further supports on the education sector for the cause of developing human resource with high quality and capacity.
Finally, I would like to whish Your Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen with Five Gems of Buddhist Blessings. May I now announce the closing of Stock-Taking Conference on Education, Youth, and Sports Affairs for 2006-2007 and Directions Setting for the new academic year of 2007-2008.