Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;
Distinguished Board of Directors and Faculty Members,
Dear Students of the Panhasatra University:
Today I am most honored and pleased to join you all in this ceremony to inaugurate the Panhasatra University of Cambodia (PUC). Today’s event testifies another progress in our higher education. Moreover, this achievement also reflects the participation by private sector in education development, which is an important factor for socio-economic development of Cambodia towards improving the well-being of our people.
In this special occasion, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) I would like to sincerely commend the board of directors, the management, all faculty and staff members and students of Panhasatra university as well as the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports for their excellent works in achieving all these prideful outcomes. These achievements have also revealed good cooperation and supports by all means, from national and international organizations and from our friends such as the United States, Japan, France and Australia who always attach great attention to supporting us in the fields of education and training. This Indeed proves the key role of international cooperation in education development in Cambodia.
The early report by Dr. Chea San Chanthan, President of PUC, has highlighted the gracious assistance from the United States both in terms of spiritual and material supports provided to the university in order to establish an educational and research center, by providing books and internet access in the library of the university – which bears a friendly name of “American Corner” – and another internet access point in Kampong Cham. Taking this opportunity, I would like to ask Your Excellency Ambassador of the United States to Cambodia to convey our deep thanks and regards to the government and people of the United States for this meaningful assistance that contributes to the development of intellectual resource in Cambodia.
Moreover, I notice that the introduction of community service learning (CSL) program, operated under the PUC and California State University at Fullerton with financial support from USAID, is a very important activity for students and Cambodian society.
From historical and cultural point of view, this kind of voluntary service has been indeed adopted in our Khmer culture since the ancient time. In fact, in the old days parents used to give their brides and grooms houses, cattle or land etc. In cases where newly married couples needed to move to new places to live, houses and above-mentioned properties need to be transferred. There should be only their close neighbours who can be of good help with voluntary service to transfer everything to a new settlement that is sometimes a couple of Kilometres away. Other facts are that Khmer people love voluntary works such as building pagodas, roads and irrigation systems. These activities are purely voluntary and non-lucrative. This illustrates the fact that voluntary services in community and mutual support exist long ago in Khmer society.
Interruption of this kind of valued culture emerged when the country went through the turmoil time of more than two decades of war, especially during the Khmer Rouge regime that destroyed nearly all of the foundations of economic, educational infrastructure, culture, tradition, belief and religion. The result of this abolition left tremendous burdens and uncountable negative impacts, especially the lack of human resource. Nevertheless, the “conscious culture of sharing” began to mushroom after the historic date of 7th January 1979. In this sense, on behalf of the RGC, I highly appreciate the effort of PUC In mainstreaming “community services” in its curriculum. By so doing, our young generations would learn to appreciate life in rural areas and link it to one in towns. This fact contributes to the effort of the Royal Government in reducing rural-urban gaps.
Taking this opportunity, I would like all higher education institutions and the Ministry of Youth, Education and Sports to pay more attention on and widely promote “community links” curriculum in order to enable students to directly communicate with farmers and to work with NGOs. This would allow our students to comprehend difficulties facing farmers, patients, orphans, widowers, and disables. Above all, it also provides them opportunities to enhance their leadership skills and conscience that can be modelled for younger generation to follow their elders to complete their education at higher level as well as to love their nation and motherland.
Currently, the liberalization policy in education sector and the strengthening of the private sector partnership of both domestic and foreign investors, which I imposed in the last ten years, have now produced proud outcomes. Factually, both private and public institutes and universities have been established and mushroomed. We can indeed visualize that Cambodian youth has full ability to receive information from abroad for education purpose and improve their general knowledge through access to internet and email. Some other students also have opportunity to competitively get scholarship for continuing their studying in regional countries and the world. In the other hand, Cambodian youth are enthusiastic to learn with high efforts and hard studying. At the same time, I would like to urge parents to encourage their children to put more efforts in their study for them to be a responsible citizen with good moral and good behaviour. Thus they will become a good citizen, highly knowledgeable and highly professional — that is fundamental to get additional skills which are more advanced and complex.
To achieve those purposes, the Royal Government has put tremendous efforts to channel more investments into education through increasing budget for education and mobilizing external resources as well as promoting participation of private sector. Meanwhile, I believe that preparing strategic plan for education and vocational training that is consistent to the goals and objectives of socio-economic development is extremely important. To achieve such objectives, the Royal Government has put in place Priority Action Plan for tertiary education since 2001 to provide incentives to lecturers and scholarships to poor students. In this context, I would like to urge the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to introduce projects to build female dormitory in some universities and key institutions and cooperates with Ministry of Economy and Finance to seek funding from key donor partners under the framework of non-project aid for supporting national budget. In this regard, the establishing of female dormitories is a high priority for poverty reduction and enhances social equity since it enables female students from remote areas to stay and study in higher education.
These are an important factor to ensure social cohesion and sustainable and equity economic growth which is a key ingredient to attain the strategy of the Royal Government in poverty reduction.
Within this framework, the Ministry of Youth and Sports has to put more efforts in managing the process of education and training of all tertiary organizations, both public and private in order to maintain a national quality standard that is similar to those in the region. Moreover, the Ministry has to exclusively eliminate red-tape in examining and providing license for establishing of tertiary institutions. This will reduce operation costs of universities, faculties and institutions which in the past hide in non-invoice expenditure and finally become a main reasons leading to the lowering of the education quality. Furthermore, the Ministry must find the means and create enabling environment to encourage students across the country to read books as at present we have many big libraries, including the Hun Sen Library at the Phnom Penh University, National Library and other libraries located at different universities.
Once again, I would like to profoundly thank Dr. Chea San Chanthan, the President of Panhasastra University of Cambodia, all the professors and staff for the efforts in fulfilling their responsibility and the contribution to the development of education which is a priority sector of the Royal Government Rectangular Strategy.
Moreover, I sincerely convey my appreciation to all students for their hard works in attaining knowledge, studying in both Khmer and foreign languages, in particular English which could be considered as an official language in the ASEAN region and a mean to compete at national and international markets. Moreover, may I express my appreciation to parents (husbands and wife) of all our students that have make sacrifices physically, morally and materially so that students can continue to attain tertiary education. I would like to appeal to all parents to provide great attention and care as well as regular control of your kids’ study so that they will become good citizen.
I would like to emphasize that in the future these children are the backbone and leaders of our country. In this sense, all students must learn constantly to be highly capable to contribute to the development and prosperity of our country. In conclusion, let me extend to you all, Excellencies, Ladles and Gentlemen, distinguished national and international guesses, managers, professors, staff and all students, the five gems of Buddhist wishes. With great pleasure I would like to officially announce the opening of the Panhasastra University of Cambodia.