Samdech Hun Sen attended and gave a speech at the opening of the conference that reviews the 2003-2005 achievements in the field of education, youth and sports of Cambodia. He also made comments on how education was restored after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, efforts to improve educational infrastructure and human resources, and on how Cambodia should focus attention in sports development in Cambodia. Following are selected of those comments.
… In addition to the nine recommendations that I have listed out here, and also in the National Institute for Education, we need to continue to narrow down the differences over a span of time between 1979 and the present. First, I wish to mention about technical and material infrastructure. Coming out of the Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime, we had to begin from scratch in the event that we were under constant attacks by the Khmer Rouge and economic embargoes from outside. Still we have focused our attention on education as a priority area. Some of the children from those days have now become intellectuals, professors, and instructors. They were the ones who studied under the tree’s shades, the people’s homes or even the Buddhist monks’ residences instead of proper school buildings. In those days we do not have schools in the rural area and so in the city.
… As of now we have a different situation. Thanks to our continuing efforts, from the People’s Republic of Kampuchea to the State of Cambodia, and to the Royal Government of Cambodia, we have continued to address one after another the demands for technical and material infrastructures. Take for instance we have here HE Kong Korm, who was one of those I had instructed HE Pen Ien, currently Deputy Governor of Prey Veng province, to recruit along with HE Kong Nem, HE Men Kuon into the workforce in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Government, the people and in some places the Government and the people jointly build schools aimed at addressing the need for educational infrastructural development. In some case we have to upgrade a primary school to college. It turns out that this policy option has addressed not only the need for upgrading educational level in place but also helped with the issue of gender disparity that is caused by the our tradition of allowing no daughters to go away from parental guidance. It clearly improves female student enrolment in college level.
… I learned about lack of transparency in recruiting teachers. That was why I ordered from the district of Batheay of Kompong Cham province that we have to change the pattern of recruitment from automatic admittance to cross examination. Those passed the exam, whether they are or are not parts of the specified 5000 teacher candidates to be recruited, would be admitted as fully qualified teachers – since it is just a matter of swapping them from contract teachers to systematic teachers. It is our objective to continue to build more schools because more and more children have become grown up and also because many have finished their nine-year education.
… Secondly, another difference in our comparison between the past and the present is that we now have better security – no more wars like those in between 1970 to 1975, and 1979 and 1998, under which period our teachers suffered great difficulties along with implementing their noble tasks of educating our children. It is in this respect that I initiated the appeal for the Day in Gratitude of Teachers to be held every year. As peace fully prevails teachers have been relieved from unspecified tasks of safeguarding children lives from bombardments and shells and evacuating them to safer ground or trenches. Peace also allows us to send teachers to rural areas where we now have certain roads improved and bridges built. Peace and infrastructural development have brought about positive changes in education, and others.
… Thirdly, it is no more schooling in which students were instructed to insult this or that person because of political inclinations, etc. These are the three basic changes giving us the potential and power to march onward. Comparing to the time when we started with both hands as the only capital in liberating the country, one may pose a question if it is possible to go on with the present development.
… I wish to take this opportunity to note that once the old problems are eradicated, new ones seem to have appeared – take for instance, gangs of youths and drug addicts. Though we still have small number of brotherly gangsters and drug addicts among our students, still it is a crucial issue to deal with. This is our new task and teachers at schools and parents and superintendents, and all social actors to cooperate together for the sake of our society’s existence. A few hours in school would not be enough to superintend the children. Therefore it is demanding a collective effort. It is a common issue where responsibilities of teachers and families combined are required.
… I am a father too and I used to monitor my children studies though their log-books. I remember always that I wrote as a suggestion to teachers of my children to pay attention to moral education, despite the fact that my children have been disciplinary. On the issue of drugs and gangsters, I have seen that the military police in the province of Banteay Mean Chey has done a great job in re-habilitating those drug-addicted children and persons. The military police in the province of Battambang also takes up this measure and I think it is a great task to do. Drug addicted persons are not our criminals but victims. We should try to help them and provide them with education and train them to be useful kids for our country.
… Let me also take this chance to mention about the importance of the Buddhist monks’ role in education. It is my understanding and experience to see that teachers and Buddhist monks in the local areas have been very close and cooperative. Take for instance we have here a good example of Samdech Venerable Monk Tep Vong who has led a “Children Assistance” program in which orphans and children from the poor families are being fostered and provided with education. We have about 4000 Buddhist monasteries and we would have saved a lot of people if each one of them could foster twenty children. Settling with the Buddhist monks in the monasteries would help those children to gain understanding in both secular and Buddhist worlds.
… All religions in Cambodia may do so. There is no religion in this world that instructs human being to commit harm and sin. Terrorists may have been identified to be Muslim but Islam is not the source of terrorism. When they commit terror those people never think about religion, take for instance their attacks on Indonesia, which is also a Muslim country, and others. Muslim is not a source of threat.
… As far as sports in concerned I wish to make my appreciative remark that it is making headway now thanks to Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranaridh in his capacity as head of the Cambodia’s Olympic Committee. I am pleased to see that, with the help from generous people, our sports activities have gone on a fast developmental track. It is important to institutionalize sports in primary schools so that our children can practice it since childhood.
… Talking about sports, in the 1980s, in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, maybe HE Kong Korm could recall it we had a team of footballers and volleyball players. I was one of the players in the volleyball team. I remember that HE Kong Korm was a reserve player. According to my experience, we had a situation where in volleyball everyone in the team wants to be a smasher, and not ball passer. As I have seen in various international matches, everyone in the team seems to know how to pass or to distribute the ball. The same is true for football because I see that everyone want to run in the central forward line or to be strikers.
… We are determined to host the SEA Game in 2011 as I assured Samdech Krom Preah that recently. I wish that we improve our skills from now so that we could get some medals. We have six years to go and at least we could get some, if not many.