In addition to the prepared text, Samdech Hun Sen has given some verbal recommendations to students who graduated from the Asia-Europe Institute outlining the importance of education, continuing education, general progress made in education sector, and equal access and opportunity of education for all.
… After my recommendations to our graduates today, I wish to give further advice as your road in life is still long. I learned from our contacts just now, some of you are in the age of 21. If we calculate that one lives to be 80 years, you still have 59 years to go – that’s why I am saying you still have a long road to travel. The efforts you have made so far have brought you to this stage, but you should not forget that learning is a never-ending process, or one should learn till his death. Only death is the end of learning. No matter a Ph. D. or non-Ph. D. fellow, one has to learn everyday because the situation is evolving everyday. I wish you remember this point. Even if one is a Prime Minister, s/he has to learn or risk becoming a conservative, which could be dangerous to the country. One has to continue learning and making analysis, whereby appropriate and correct policy could be set out.
… The country’s situation in the 50’s and the 60’s are different from that in the Pol Pot’s and also that under the leadership of the current Royal Government. We have introduced four reforms, under each of which there are various components that need to be monitored and improved regularly. We have to refrain from being extreme, whether to left or right, as being so would take us into dangers. Talking about driving, if we were to move to extreme left, or extreme right, we would encounter dangers of falling off roads… therefore it is important that one has to make a good decision. In relation to this point I am glad to see that there are also students who are in their monk-hood. This is what is called opportunity and we have to create equal access and opportunity for all.
… We have done a great deal in this direction as we have now all necessary levels of education. Take for instance the Asia-Europe Institute has today offered diplomas to 1,500 students, while there are 1,600 more to be graduated. I would say despite whatever condition we may be in, you are all luckier than those of the previous generations. In my time, I had to travel far away from home, leaving my parents to continue my study in Phnom Penh. You may have heard of a song I wrote about life of the pagoda boy. It was a hard life that I have gone through. But for you I think you have better chances, and all we want is that you all go to school, as we now have equal chances and opportunities that you all should grab in no delay. In 1979 we had this situation of lacking classrooms, and our schools in those days were under the shade of trees or beneath tilted residences of monks, and we had no chalks but hardened soil – these are the consequences left by war.
… Maybe I should have your attention that everyone is born without any clothes on but naked. There have been no indications that children born in the urban areas perform better in school than those born in the countryside, and the same is true between those born into rich families and those born into poor ones. But according to my experiences, I have encountered a fact that in rural areas there have many brilliant peoples, but they do not have chance for education. It is in this point that I thought if they have chance to have access to education, they may be bright people. Taking this fact into consideration I find that education has close connection with opportunity and it has to be combined with efforts made by students themselves, while parents create chances for them, and also the state, civil society and private should also take parts in creating chances so that more students could be absorbed into education.
… I have led my life through a hard road so I understand well and fully support any activities relating to human resources training. It is a key for the national development. If we look at and compare incomes of a nation with highly educated people to that of low educated people, we will see that they are different. Some countries have got potential natural resources, Cambodia is an example, but they are still poor. We may point at political mistake as one reason, but lack of human resources is another. Take Singapore as an opposite example. This country has to purchase even drinking water from Malaysia, but because they have the two requirements – correct politics and good human resources, they have created a good chance for investment.
… Any investment in this sense will go into the education sector, and the return will come out not from there but from enterprises, factories, etc. I have written that in my book titled “Cambodia – Ten Year’s March.” The more money we invested in education, the better chance we get the return from the economic activities… I have made a recommendation before and I repeat it today that no one student is left to drops out his study because of living hardship… The student associations in universities have to help them so that they could finish their studies
… Samdech Hun Sen has in the event offered 15 computers, 7 printers and one photocopier. Also ten tons of rice and one million Riel will be offered on a monthly basis starting from February 2003 for the AEI to help relieve difficulties of our students coming from poorer communities.