-Distinguished international and national guests,
-Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, I have great honor and pleasure to be with all of you in National and International Literacy Day, September 8, 2005at one of the beautiful parks in Phnom Penh city.
On behalf of the Royal Government and myself, I would like to applaud and to enthuse September the eight to be National and International Literacy Day in our country, which is an event with great essences for the development of our nation.
Indeed, I would like to recall that literacy is not a new phenomenon because we have tried to address the issues since the liberation day, January 7, 1979. At the same time of national rehabilitation and reconstruction from the devastation and genocidal period, literacy was a component of education aiming at liberating people from illiteracy. Our concept was“Literates teach illiterates, more literates teach lesser literates and keep learning.” At the same time, we developed several measures to prevent becoming-illiterate for those who had low education.
Such policy of the government stood on the concept that “education or knowledge is the key to address all socioeconomic issues.” Only education is for all that we can enrich the human resources for development of our nation. Since then, the government’s concepts have been implemented and improved from one term of government to another up to the present third-term-legislative government.
As the results, what have we achieved? And what will wee need to do in the future? This is an important issue, which is needed to be evaluated properly in order to be able to set the new direction for the future. I would not answer the question directly since we have the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) and National Committee for Education that have been actively working in cooperation with some institutions, national and international organizations, and civil societies all over the country and it is aforementioned by H.E. Kol Pheng, Senior Minister and the Minister of MoEYS. Nevertheless, I would like to provide some ideas as concepts and vision for future development.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to highly appraise and appreciate MoEYS and relevant institutions that have put effort to improve the literacy of our people under of parallel framework of formal and informal education. As the result, we have got a significant improvement for the last several years. Under coverage of the Rectangular Strategy, we have clearly determined the universality of 9-year basic education to be linked to literacy and skills by focusing on two main meanings:
First- To ensure that 9-year basic education is provided to all adolescences with high quality and equity as well as without any discrimination on sex, nationality, social class and position. The government’s priority is to promote gender equity in education by providing scholarship to female students to pass through from grade 6 to 7 and poor students to continue to high school after completion 9 –year basic education or to continue to tertiary education.
Second– To link literacy program to technical and professional training, which concentrate on both literacy teaching and vocational training to the literates who most of them are men and youth. After the completion, they can make their livings in technical works, agriculture, cultivations, husbandry, health care, hygienic practices and disease preventions. These are the contribution to the implementation of poverty reductions policy of the Royal Government in which education is considered to be a strategy for poverty reduction for the sake of national development.
In addition to the above two points, May I, once again, emphasize that the topic of “literacy and peace” is still crucial and needs to be constantly concentrated. Undoubtedly, this requires turning the plan and action programs at every level into actual actions by linking literacy with peace, respects of human right and dignity, and human resource development. In this sense, I frequently point out that “peace, respects of human right and dignity, and human resource are the three complementary angles in social rehabilitation”. This point means that peace and respects of human right and dignity leads to the building of human resource with equity and quality, a mean t peaceful culture and national development through education both inside and outside the system. In this context, Literacy Day September the Eight, was announced by United Nation’s plenary session as the decade of United Nation literacy for 2003 and regarded as international obligations for every country in accordance with the objectives of global forum in Dakar, Senegal 2003.
In fact, since then up to 2005, Dakar’s objectives still demand for further implementation to ensure that “there is a 50 percent progress for the youth illiteracy students by the end of 2015” especially for females, who need equal opportunity and fortune to access to foundation and further educations in accordance to the principles that “Education is for all and all are for education’.
What I have mentioned above is only to confirm the reason for literacy activities that have been tied closely to some views and ideas in the direction of the Global Forum in Dakar, 2000.
Next, I would like to suggest some initiatives and recommendations to continue literacy work in Cambodia based on theEducation for All Plan 2003-2015 which has already been announced on 10th June 2003. Furthermore, I would like to appeal to all levels of education both formal and informal systems and related institutions, international organizations, NGOs, social civil organizations, local authority, and the whole national community to work harder in the development of the literacy activity in the new stage in which the “International Literacy Day, September 8” has been considered as the National Literacy Day of the Kingdom of Cambodia by paying a special attention on three main challenges in the informal education system:
– First Challenge: to provide opportunity and chance to over age and the most recent drop-out children to be re-integrated into formal education system. This would prevent newly illiterates.
– Second Challenge: provide the opportunity and chance for those youths outside of school, who cannot be re-integrated into the formal system due to over age or poor living standards, with basic education under different circumstances to enable them to be recognized by the labor market and the society. I would like to stress that this activity is an important factor in preventing youths from falling into drugs experimentation, sex-trafficking, robbery and violence.
– Third Challenge: provide knowledge which is tied closely with the development of life-supporting skills for those matured literates, by focusing especially on women, vulnerable families, youths who are facing potential dangers and demobilized soldiers and the remote communities. These literacy students are the source of active workforce in generating income to support their families and demand for the favorable condition to have access to education and the study under literacy professionalism. Indeed, if we are able to achieve that, this achievement will contribute the poverty alleviation in accordance to the government policy.
In order to address the aforementioned three challenges, I would like to call for the continued efforts in bringing about new prosperous changes on some of the priority actions as follow:
– Education program reform, textbooks, stationary, and other facilities necessary for basic education and illiteracy professional, hence to teach the knowledge which ties up very closely with the education and development of skills and professions.
– Renovate, improve and enlarge community learning centers for villages-commune of all provincial and municipal bases, by ensuring the availability of libraries, reading rooms, and practical rooms for generating and suggesting professional skills.
– Implement the learning frame in accordance to the regions and time and to focus on distance learning.
-Address and contribute learning facilities and necessary funding to meet every timely progressive step.
– Improve and upgrade the competency and quality of illiteracy instructors, including the special focus on volunteers who require continuous supports.
– Improve and enlarge managerial work and administration at all levels across the country in order to ensure similar actions and development speed for all provinces.
– Increase the cooperation with related ministries and institutions, local authority, national and international organizations, and other generous people living inside and outside the country by adopting the “Education is For All and All For Education” principal.
Before coming to the end, I would like to take this opportunity to inform once again the determination of the Royal Government’s efforts in supporting and providing means to develop illiteracy activity as well as educational activity for all in the theme of the Global Forum in DAKAR, 2000. I hope that the theme will be realized by all classes of society across the country and to become the real practice.
In conclusion, along with the appreciation and complement for the achievements during the past few years, I would like to wish you all with the five gems of Buddhist blessings: longevity, nobility, good health, strength and wisdom. I would like to announce the official “International Literacy Day September the eighth”, to be the national literacy day for the Kingdom of Cambodia from now on.