Excellencies, Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, I am very honoured and pleased to join the opening ceremony of the conference of the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports to take stock and evaluate the performance of the academic year 2003-2005, and set new direction for implementation in the new academic year 2005 – 2006. Indeed, the new academic year has started since 1st October, however then we were in trouble caused by the natural disaster of draught. This draught caused difficulties to livelihood of citizens in some provinces. This also caused a negative effect on the performance of the new academic year.
Through the welcoming remarks by H.E Senior Minister KOL PHENG, I have noticed that, in the past two academic years 2003-2005, although there were difficulties, the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports achieved tremendous results. This significantly contributed to the overall achievements of the Government in the third legislature as we are implementing the Rectangular Strategy focused mainly on building infrastructure for socio-economic development, in particular roads, bridges and irrigation system. All these will contribute to a sustainable growth, equity and poverty reduction of the people.
In this spirit, on behalf of the RGC and myself, I would like to express my profound gratitude and sincere appreciation to Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, who are the educational officials at all levels, namely lecturers, teachers, monks, student parents, civil communities, generous people and local authorities across the country. They exerted their utmost efforts to successfully carry out their tasks in the past academic years to provide education for the next generation and for the success of human resource development regardless the shortages and difficulties that we had to overcome. Through this conference, I would like to convey my regards and appreciation to civil servants and all education staffs, who are busy with their duties in the new academic year in all provinces and cities.
At the same time, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to national and international organisations and friendly countries in the world, which have contributed in great deal to restore, build and develop education, youth and sport sectors in Cambodia by providing material, budget and technical support and assistance.
The participation and support from all stakeholders highlight that “Education is For All and All are for education“. This is our holy goal that we have to achieve in order to comply with the chapter 6 of the Constitution stipulating that all people have equal rights to education, no discrimination in terms of gender, race, social status and class.
As I mentioned in previous education forums, in particular at the national and international literacy day of 8th September and in my message at the opening ceremony of the academic year on 1st October, the priority of the Ministry of education youth and sports, as that of the government in this period, is to ensure that all school children complete 9-year basic education for all, and promote gender equality in education by providing scholarship to female students and poor students in order to help them to pass through from grade 6 to grade 7 and pursue to high school and tertiary education.
In the Rectangular Strategy of the government, the Ministry of Education remains the priority one, and education remains a strategy for poverty reduction, and qualified human resource development is still a main factor for building and developing the nation.
Based on education outcome that we have achieved, I wish that the new academic year will achieve more progress in all education areas from kindergarten to graduated level and post-graduated level. In a situation where the building of peaceful culture across the world has faced international terrorism since 2001, I strongly feel and understand that good education can make people be able to live together, respect each other, love each other and mutually help without violence and discrimination. This is a road which leads to the building of peaceful culture, virtual value. This gesture reflects the respect of human life, human rights, legal and liberal principles, democracy and justice. The peaceful culture is also against violence and social anarchy.
In this sense, I would like to urge all lecturers, teachers and education staffs to continue to effectively and efficiently carry out the basic education principle and good education instruction to all students at all levels, thus building a new generation progressing in all fields and possessing capacity and quality as “good children, good students, good friends and good citizen”. This will help them to get rid of unethical behaviour that is our upfront concerns. Indeed, the phenomenon does not only lead to the downfall of social morality, custom and cultural loss, but it also affects all value of our national development.
With a new improvement in morality, I would like also to see a new growth of knowledge and know-how as the budget allocation to the education has indeed increased from year to year, despite enormous economic difficulty. To enhance education quality in the age of reform, I would like request the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to divert its budget expenditure to the right target of education and the necessity of the society and the nation in the new context of regional integration and globalisation.
Within this framework, I would like to request the conference to pay attention on and take good experiences from countries in the region and the world. This is to be used as basis for comparison, evaluation and improvement in order to develop the education sector in Cambodia. Furthermore, we shall also focus on the previous good experiences because “the past experiences are the lessons for the future”. Based on this concept, I would like to teach all students to obtain good ethic, knowledge and good qualification for their use to enhance living standards of their families and the society as a whole, by focusing on labor intensive and production works. This means that we do not educate people just to be bureaucracy civil servant.
The conference of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport today is an important event and a good opportunity for the key officials from provinces to come together to discuss, exchange views, and share knowledge and experiences with the management of the Ministry in order to find a solution to problems on the table and identify measures for further implementation and develop education sector to be responsive to the new request of socio-economic progress of our country, and to have education quality similar to the regional standard as we are one of the ASEAN members. This is a form of democratic work which is moving towards decentralization system. All decisions made by the conference at the ministerial level has to be based the decisions and proposals of the local conference. Thus, conferences have to be organized at the municipal/provincial level prior to the ministerial level.
In accordance with the program agenda for this three days conference, I would like to request the educational institutions at all levels to pay more attention on the following key issues:
First: Continue to implement the principle of “linking school with family and society” in order to enlarge the participation in implementing the government policies to reduce poverty of our people, by providing equal opportunity for children to enroll more to schooling and complete nine years of basic education or at least the primary education.
Second: develop teachers in all education centers by improving training program at pedagogic institutions both in terms of fundamental training and re-training and linking it to enhance living conditions of teachers and focusing attention to females in line with “gender” principle in education sector.
Third: Continue to implement reforms and improve curriculum and text books aimed at providing education and technical training at all educational institutions and all fields of education by ensuring that the provision of quality education services can respond to the demand and socio-economic development of our nation. This includes the essence of teaching foreign language which serves as a bridge to pursue technical professions and scientific research.
Fourth: Continue to enhance education and training profession as well as strengthening governance, controlling, inspection and evaluation linking to new human resources development to be the successors of the retired and contract teachers.
Fifth: Continue to strengthen quality of education at tertiary level both public and private institutions. Tertiary education has increased in quantity and is required to pay attention on quality up to comparable level of tertiary education in the region.
Sixth: Continue to repair and maintain existing and newly-built educational premises in response to the increases in enrollment every year. At the same time, we should pay more attention on information technology facilities, library, laboratory, warehouse, working room, art room, gardening, sport center as place for research and applied research in accordance with the principle of linking theories to practices.
Seventh: Strengthen informal education by ensuring the improvement of skill illiterate program, additional training and re-enrollment program at primary school and lower secondary school. This would provide opportunity for youth and children who are not in the system can have equal access to basic education. This is an important participation towards the goal of “education for all”.
Eighth: Continue to improve youth activities and sport to ensure that child and youth can be mobilized both from formal and informal system to be a new force that is free of drug, smuggling, sexual exploitation and gangster activities for the sake of development of the country. Starting from sport activity that is an important component of education for a healthy body. Sportsmen and sportswomen can be trained for both domestic and international competition.
Ninth: Continue to strengthen relationship and partnership cooperation with national and international communities to mobilize resources for the development of education towards a higher level that is proper for each grade of education. In this regards, parents, families, communities and the whole society have to work closer with the school to educate their children to become “the next generation and the real pillar of the nation.”
All aforementioned are what I want to convey to the conference for consideration and to include in the new direction of the new academic year 2005-2006 and for the years to come.
On behalf of the royal government and my own behalf, I would like to express my deep gratitude to national and international communities as well as all benevolent people who supported and continue to support education sector in Cambodia in order to turn direction of works of new academic year into action plan and doable programs.
Finally, I would like to thank once again and wish all of you with five gems of Buddhist blessing. On behalf of the royal government, I would like to declare the opening of the conference and wish the conference a great success.