In addition to the prepared text, Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen also gave following additional comments on a number of topics relating to education, youth and sports and childrearing in Cambodia.
… HE Kol Pheng, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education, Youth and Sports (MEYS) has already made a report (on the overall education situation in Cambodia) but I wish to add a few notes further in relation to this topic. We have stated that we are working on the basis of reinforcing infrastructure or building more school buildings and increasing human resources or upgrading more primary school teachers to junior secondary, and from junior to senior secondary schools.
In our country, village is not an administrative unit. In our Constitution, the article 145 stipulates that the Kingdom of Cambodia is divided into provinces or cities and districts or Khans and from districts or Khan to communes or Sangkat. So village is not in any way considered to be the country’s administrative structure. We now take the number of communes into consideration – there are 1621 communes throughout the country.
According to the report by HE DP Kol Pheng we have some 1641 kindergarten schools throughout the country but we have only 1621 communes. That means we have more kindergartens than the communes.
There was this issue reported in the press about a proposal for exchanging a kindergarten school in Phnom Penh, which brought us all many negative interpretations on my decision. This proposal for such an exchange was not proposed by a company alone but there was also a push behind by (government) officials. My decision in this matter was to put an end to the move. I would urge the mayor to look seriously after this matter. I mention this today so that the Press should have some insights and should not criticize only HE Kol Pheng.
I would praise what they have done in Kompong Thom province where in every school I helped built they bought more land in expansion of the school yard. There is this example in Sandan district.
Let’s now talk about the Primary School. We have recorded here 6365 schools – or 88 new schools – and we should again compare the figure with the number of commune – 1621 and we will see that some communes would have more than two primary schools. We have 866 junior secondary schools or 176 new schools or there is one junior college in every two communes. Our aim is to have a junior college in every commune. We have 283 senior colleges or there 36 new schools and we have in 24 cities and provinces some 283 colleges or an average of ten colleges in a province.
Despite all these numbers I am not yet content for Cambodia. I do not want any Cambodian children to begin their schooling that is so difficult like mine. I had to leave my family since when I was small in search of school. That is what I want to have schools by the village. We have some 185 districts but we have up to 283 colleges. We have to make further efforts in achieving this goal.
You all may learn already that inheriting your children with wealth is not a sure way to guarantee that they have a good future. Inheriting them with knowledge would assure that wish. We of course have some schools built in good condition and some in less than good condition but we hope with greater and joint efforts we will some day achieve this goal. Hun Sen alone could not realize this purpose but common effort will. Education (is) for all and all (is) for education. You may see this as my revenge against the lack of school as I used to suffer in the past.
In the past, Cambodians did not allow their daughters to have high education and one of their arguments was that their daughters would write to communicate their loves. One other objective argument was also because there was no school close to home, which made them feel insecure to allow their daughters to travel to school in long distance. Basing on this we have no choice but to move school facility closer to home so that female students could maintain access to education. It is favorably applicable though because of the situation that we have a durable peace throughout the country.
I have mentioned many times that I will strategize my development plan for the country in a frog-hopping manner and not a great leap forward. We had a devastating effect once when Pol Pot applied his great leap forward policy in Cambodia. What we do is by steps but it surely builds on. We now have more than three million and a half students and about ten thousand teachers. We have planned to expand payroll only for teachers – at some 5,000 new teachers per annum.
A UN researcher in Cambodia – in 1993 proposed to me in relation to public administrative reform project that Cambodia should reduce between 20% and 30% of its staff number. My response to his approach was that reducing staff could not in anyway be compared to pulling off vegetables and the area to be trimmed down could not be done in education and health. These two sectors will never be downsized, only expanding. He proposed to me that teachers should go into retirements at the age of 55 and my response to this was no and I proposed to HM the King for a retirement age at 60.
In relation to rearing own children, I would have your attention that school should not be seen as a place where educating children is done completely and solely. Parents must take active part in looking after and guiding their children. They have a few hours with their teachers in schools so the rest is important for parents to command.
Taking my example, I have good result from my actions when I brought all of my children to Chadomuk Primary School and the process of establishing follow-up could be checked in my children’s school log book. My eldest son got number 3 in the primary school and he made me happier all the time that he went up to college, to the US Military Academy at West Point and I would like to take this opportunity to assure you that nothing could be identically happy as to have a good child who is a good and able student.
What I wanted to mention here is to have all parents’ attention in bringing up their children. We would be disappointed to see our children dropping off schools or engaged in “racing cars or motorbikes”. Taking this opportunity I would urge the mayor of Phnom Penh to take effective measures to put a stop to gangster activities or you may have to resign from this job. These kids raced their cars and motorbikes in the park of Samdech Chea Sim and Samdech Hun Sen. They called their parents in for intervention when the police detained them for their actions. I would urge the police to detain their parents together if they appear to interfere in your affairs. The police then file a clear and true-to-the-fact report to me.
Children from poor families try hard to study and these uncontrolled and disobedient actions are normally happening within the rich families because they have money and power. I urge the head of police and military police in the city to take this matter to heart. We should not allow ourselves to become victims of our children’s uncontrolled desire. I heard radio communication of traffic police and I have no doubt why we could not improve the traffic condition and reduced traffic incidents in Phnom Penh. I for once heard on the radio that “so and so is going down this road, but let them go because they are children of so and so.” It was so disappointed.
I would not hesitate to act if you inform me completely and truthfully. Let’s see what happens in Singapore and some of you may know about an American student who was punished for spraying someone’s car. He was sentenced to get whipping. Intervention from then President Bill Clinton was also impossible to annul the sentence.
So we all have to learn to love our children, to educate ourselves to educate our children. Again, to the mayor of Phnom Penh, the task to counter act of disturbance of public order must be done gradually and constantly. You have to have the courage to do this task and I would not hesitate to help you fulfill your duties.
Taking this opportunity I would like to have the attention of those involved in keeping security that we have to have a good public and social order as we will have a general election to organize./.