Congratulation for 1,184 Teachers of French-Khmer Language
I am so happy to be here (National Institute of Education) once again to preside over the graduation and diploma presentation for graduates in pedagogy before you all will start your career as professor and teachers. I would in this special occasion seek your understanding that my wife, because of her other duty engagement, could not make it here today with me. I thank HE Im Setthi, Minister of Education, for his welcoming report, and HE Im Koch, for his presentation on the progress of the National Institute of Education but also education sector as a whole.
We have here 1,280 graduates among whom 1,184 are teachers of French-Khmer language of the 14th and 15th intakes with Bachelor Degree plus one year of pedagogical training, and 96 of you are from the 11th and 12th intakes. I hope that with your efforts made over the time of your studies here, you all will be equipped with knowledge and experience on teaching in our mission to develop human resources for the country.
5,000 New Teachers Every Year
As is affirmed by the Minister of Education, HE Im Setthi, and the Director of the National Institute of Education, HE Im Koch, education has indeed been a major sector for our country and I would add on to their impressions that every year we have in general provided for the recruitment of 5,000 teachers, while no recruitment has been allowed for other sectors. Particularly in 2010, no (state) institution has been allowed to recruit new staffs except education and health.
We have applied the (Royal Government’s) policy of relieving a certain number of people from their service at their retirement age and no new staff recruitment to replace them has been allowed. This policy has been defined and implemented so as to guarantee that we will not have extra number of officials that would lead to over expense. The expense on staff has been defined to be only 40% of all current expenses or 4% of the GDP. As far as education is concerned, while making new recruitment of 5,000 teachers a year, we have placed some of the old ones into retirement. The number of those retired has been subtracted from the total number of newly recruited figure, and around 2,000 is real add-on figure.
Assuring Need for More Qualified Teachers
It is on this note that we cannot ignore that fact that an inflated staff payroll would eventually cause difficulty (for the Royal Government) in making investments in other sectors. We even brought down the figures in the army in stages. However, in the fields of education and health, we have aimed for no downsizing/delayering as for example in education we have increasing number of children to take up education whereas more schools have been built to accommodate them. There has been an assuring reason for recruiting and training of more teachers.
These days, we have more teachers/professors. The increase has indeed been a completely different situation from (what we have encountered) in 1980s. In those days we were in desperate need of teachers and restarting schooling for our people (after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime). We were left with not many teachers and we had to call on and bring together teachers who have survived the killing by the Pol Pot’s regime. Those recruited in those days were not necessarily trained teachers but anyone with some form of education and had to be trained and/or retrained before sending on for teaching job.
However, having come this far, we have reached a stage where teachers have to be recruited and trained in any of the following formulas of 9+1, 12+1, 12+2 (where 9 is for nine year education and 1 or 2 is for one year or two years of pedagogical training) for primary education, and for secondary education, we have assured a qualification of Bachelor + 1 formula teacher who have to take up training in the National Institute of Education.
More Taking Up Teaching Career
I have observed the general trend of career development in Cambodia and lately I have come to a conclusion that more of our younger people have opted for teaching career. Only last week I have to make a decision to allow people to swap from provincial government job to teaching career. They have shown their interested in taking up teaching and have successfully passed exam for pedagogical training. Facing with this situation I have decided that they can take up teaching, after completing one year of pedagogical training, but have to let go their provincial government employments.
It is worth noting though that there seem to be more people who are interested in becoming teachers. This has illustrated a completely different trend in job seeking and career development among our people. Years ago they would go for teaching career only after they failed in other attempts. I am the situation is still afresh in our memory. This has proven alongside with the overall development of the country that in the last 32 years (after the fall of the Pol Pot’s regime), astonishing progress and achievement in the field of education.
Yearly 20% Salary Increase, Toad-leap Development
The yearend is approaching and I am sure both newly recruited and incumbent staffs are anticipating the yearly 20% salary increase that I first pronounced in 2004. It was maybe small at the time but 20% increase on top of last-paid salary every year might as well be larger now. Recently I have told HE Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, who co-chairs the Local-Based Democratic Development Committee with the Minister of Economy and Finance, that I am so happy that they both sent for my signature a sub-decree on the increment by 50% of the remuneration for heads of commune and village.
Of course we have taken a toad-leap speed on this matter and have been insulted to be the slowest way of dealing with this work. I have been very careful with high-speed development like we had in the time of Pol Pot where people may still remember what Pol Pot said about their regime – ‘the great leap forward, the great marvels,’ whereas in reality ‘we had the great tear-drop clear rice soup (soup with lot of water and almost no rice in it) to eat.’ As one can see with their own eyes now that this toad-leap speed development, we have yielded a bridge to cross a river in every leap.
Pay Rice – Demand and Failing to Comply
Maybe I should share with you a secret story of a group of people who have demanded (the Royal Government to exercise) pay rise (for the Government employees) but have in fact failed to pay their staff’s salary, about 40 US dollars per person, in Kompong Chhnang province.
In another story, I called it the gold necklace story. Another group of local Cambodians have assigned someone on a duty to raise fund among the Cambodian expatriates abroad. I heard it from the person who had gone on the fund raining mission that there has been contribution of 5, 10 or 20 USD in every gathering but the raise has not been enough for the mission’s expense. He even sold out his necklace in order to pay for whatever he had to in order to get back to the country. On top of that there are those in the country who were waiting for their shares of incurred raise by the mission too. Maybe they can tell me if they are not true.
I would urge Cambodians who are living abroad to send money directly to their relatives in the country. In fact there are many ways like on radio or TV that your package can be delivered to your relatives here. It may be right to warn you that whatever you have depended on so and so to deliver to your relatives back here in the country may never reach them as they might have been spent (for travel needs) in (the United States of) America already. Just imagine the above story where the man had got to sell out his necklace to make ends meet and get on board for home.
Hard Earning, Don’t Be a Fool
I hope that people who are living abroad would no longer be fooled by this cheating as they may not make easy money at all. Some of our people who have spent many years in foreign countries seem to have come back and bought land and houses in preparation for their return to live for good in the fatherland. Look in the United States of America, in just a few months, the number of job seekers have increased from 9.3% through to like 9.8%. The situation in Europe does not seem to be any better at all. This is a situation that our people living abroad may have had impacts one way or the other.
In their line of duty, those people may not have a chance to stop even for a phone call. Whereas in Cambodia, take for instance during the water festival, I said to Prince Serivudh and Jakrapong pointing to the boat rower who had a phone in his hand and talked. He rowed the boat on one hand and held and talked on the phone with another. It is a true story now that in countryside of Cambodia, phone call and answering the phone is mobile. People may pull over their oxcart for receiving or making a phone call. This is real.
More Infrastructural Development Projects
It is true that (the Ministry of Education) will assign you all in accordance with an equitable rule for taking up teaching posts in various schools throughout the country. As far as this is concerned, no matter what province you may be assigned to, the overall infrastructural condition is more or less similar. Take for instance I never go to Ratanakiri province these days, but I heard people talking about beautiful city and good road there. Maybe we all could remember that we used to access this province only from Vietnam side in the past. The same situation was true for Mondulkiri province.
The situation has improved greatly now though we still do not have highway and high-speed lane like in other countries. However, what we have achieved so far is amazingly awesome for a country that has started from scratch. We are now looking for funding for the construction of a national road 76 that links between the provinces of Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri, which would end a situation in which people in both provinces had to make a detour to Snuol district of Kratie province in order to reach each other.
I also have told Deputy Prime Minister HE Sar Kheng and the Senior Minister Sun Chan Thol of my agenda to launch in February (2011) the groundbreaking ceremony to build a road that runs from Kaun Damrei to Pailin city via Mealay, Phnom Preok, Sampeo Loun and. The groundbreaking ceremony to build a road from Thmor Kol to Phnom Proek via Bovel, Sampeo Loun, Kamrieng, will be held in March (of the same year). They both are asphalted.
Santuk 2002 Visision Review
As far as school building is concerned I am sure you agree with me that the current school buildings are in better condition than in between 1979 and 1980. There are yet some schools that need to be reconditioned but for the majority of them, we can say in general that our school buildings are in better shape these days compared to those back in 1979. Our teachers and students are also having safety in learning as well as in teaching because of peace and stability, in absence of war.
For those to take up teaching posts at the secondary education level, I have put out in my Satuk 2002 vision that there has to be a junior secondary school for each and every commune. The vision has been reviewed in March 2008 with a note that it has almost been completed for provinces at the lower part of the country except for provinces where their districts’ populations have not been sufficiently clustered for a junior secondary school to be established. In addition to these we also have more senior secondary schools that are providing better facility for teaching and for learning.
Not Only Teaching, Making Them Good Kids/Friends
I would like to take this opportune moment to share with you some thoughts. Teaching, transferring knowledge and knowhow for our students is one difficult obligatory task to implement. However, to get involved in action to make our students become good kids and good friends is by far not a small issue. This is requiring communications between and among schools, families and society. It is a multi-direction communication, whereby teachers are required to take this matter at heart.
There have been sets of programs of actions by the Royal Government that are proposed by the Ministry of Interior with the approval of the Royal Government of Cambodia as well as the ruling Party that are called ‘Village-Commune Safety Program.’ Issues of noncompliant youngsters, drug addiction, gambling, etc. have all been listed in the program. If they were to be fulfilled, we would have eventually elevated our country to a free of criminal offenses, full of morale and rich culture level. The Deputy Prime Minister HE Sar Kheng told me that the program has been sent for incorporation in all schools and all institutions will have to implement it altogether in a synchronized manner.
I like a TV spot about ‘Best Cow’ concentrated milk in which actors have been presented to be orderly compliant with rule of law, social consensus and morale. A man stopped his car and waved his hand as sign for driver of another car to take the lane priority, and the same man stopped his car at the school zebra cross, and in another instance, a student picked up a hand bag for another citizen who was on phone without knowing that his bag fell through. I think it is a good spot and they should have it on for a long period of time.
While returning to your home village or in the course of your career development, I am sure you will stand the chance to see your former teachers. I have said it in many occasions that it is best for you all, younger generation teachers, though you may have achieved a senior teaching career because of your education, you must give them respects. They deserve that. You may want to be alerted of a saying that goes ‘a person who teaches you in one day may as well be a teacher of one’s whole life.’
Investment in Youth and Women – The World Trend
As far as passing knowledge to younger generation is to be concerned here I would like to have your attention that it is the world trend as far as investment in youth and women is concerned. This notion and will has been strongly expressed in the International Conference of Asian Political Parties that we hosted in Phnom Penh recently. Everything must have its starting point and nothing could have started in reversal order. For a journey of thousands of kilometers, we always start with one step.
In the meeting the Foreign Minister of Seychelles, who is 34, said to me that Prime Minister Hun Sen also started his political career when he was so young. I had no time to respond to him as I was so overwhelmed with the meeting programs and schedules. I later had a chance to shake hand with him and asked him his age. He said he is 34 years old. I said to him that is not a young age. I assured him that I started my political career as Foreign Minister when I was 27 years old. When I was 29 years old, in 1981, I visited his country in my capacity as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
Cambodia will go on with investment in youth and women. Take for instance before when I took part in the ASEAN summits, I used to have the feeling that I am younger than other leaders. Now it is not true anymore. Prime Minister Abhisit (of Thailand), Prime Minister Buosan Bophavan (of Laos) and President Aquino (of the Philippines) are younger than I am. The Sultan of Brunei Darussalam and I are long-served leaders. As long as the people vote for me I would surely have to stay on.
ICAPP Visits Win-Win Policy Area
Yesterday I had some twenty minutes to talk via VDO link with the delegation of ICAPP who was on the visit to Preah Vihear temple. I had a chat on phone with former President of the National Assembly of the Phillipines who is co-chairperson of ICAPP. I then asked for a VDO link. Members of the delegation then took turn making verbal statement at our commanding headquarters. Among them are foreign ministers of Seychelles, Tanzania, Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal, former Prime Minister of Mongolia, and more from China and Europe.
I took the chance to get their attention in English that in that specified moment and place, especially brigade 8 where they are landed, they all were at the region in which there more former Khmer Rouge people. It is one way of showing to them of what sort of achievement Cambodia has scored in its implementation of the win-win policy. We have changed from a country that was controlled by four different factions to a unified country.
Here in Phnom Penh, I told them, there were only 70 people in 1979. They all were stunt with wide open eyes. Even worse the 70 people are not Phnom Penh resident at the time and the country had no money, no market, no school and nothing. I started the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with only three staff. It is so hard for them in their human sense to understand what I have been telling them. I have taken more time to meet the Prime Minister of Nepal and shared with him our experience of co-premiership in the Cambodian politics as Nepal has indeed been in a political stalemate because of indecisive electoral results.
I have assured them, Prime Minister of Nepal, former President of the Philippines, Fidel Ramos, and former President of the Philippines, that whatever the solution may reach in Nepal, it has to reflect a general acceptance by the Nepalese people. I clarified that the Cambodian experience is of more importance to the Cambodian political context whereas our main achievement lies in the fulfillment of the win-win policy, from which no one came out as loser, but all are winners in the game of peace and national reconciliation.
Phnom Penh 2011 International Meetings/Events
In 2011 Cambodia will host more international meetings. One of the meetings will be the gathering of over 100 country members of Mine Ban Treaty (Ottawa Treaty). The second event will be the meeting of Inter-Parliamentarian Association. The Samtepheap building of the Council of Ministers has all the facilities for us to hold all sorts of meeting. Also including are two prayer rooms for Muslims – men and women – to exercise their religious duties. We can launch a party there or we can go to Koh Pij Centre where there is a larger space.
As for our pedagogical graduates this year I have already offered 182 million Riel already for their visit to Angkor Wat and a banquet too. According to the report by the Minister of Tourism, HE Thong Khon, in the last ten months of 2010, we have received over two million tourists already. This figure illustrates 16% increase compared to the figure in 2009. We still have figures of November and December tourists to include. We also will have this marathon and the golf events.
Demographic Development – Impact from Education
More and more people are getting married and this has aroused our birthrate that is already 1.54. Among topics that I wanted to bring to your attention today, issue of demographic consideration has been one of them. In some developed countries, they have sounded out their concern to the alarming fact that they have more old-age people, while in developing countries, Cambodia for instance, we have a high figure of young people who are fully energetic.
The demographic question must be brought to our attention and prepared because we need to ponder our moves in competition and capacity building and development for the country. When I was in Belgium, I told a Belgian to wait and see a drastic change of political pole in thirty years from now when a number of countries in America. Why? Let’s see the fact that two white people died and left one child, where as two blacks or yellows would die leaving between three and four people. Take for instance the situation in Canada, in some places because they have more Chinese living there, the Governor or Mayor of the city or state is a Chinese. It is easy to understand the Chinese vote for the Chinese. So I am sure the situation will change because of demographic development. Future leaders (of countries in America) would definitely be closely related to this.
In general, there are more old-age people in the developed countries. This has increased the workload for each working-age citizen so as to help feed those people. As in developing countries, because there are more younger-age and working-age populations we also have to be well prepared from the beginning, i.e. from primary, secondary through to tertiary educations, and vocational trainings. With these achievements, we can ensure a sustainable economic growth. As we are now at the end of the rainy season, I note that there are many weddings coming.
Cambodian-Thai Bilateral Relations
I have heard that the head monk of the Keo Sekkha Kirisvarak Buddhist pagoda at the Preah Vihear temple wishes to leave his monkhood. I see no problem with that because for one reason it is time for marriage in our tradition and custom but also the situation has also been improved. I would not make any public statement but I just assure that the problem has been resolved and the situation has returned to what it was before July 15, 2008.
I think I have made it easy to understand. Both Prime Ministers (of Cambodia and Thailand) have met four times to resolve incurring problem of the whole border between the two countries. Of course it is not an end to it all. We still have demarcation work to do, demining issue, opening extra passes for further cooperation and so on and so forth.
I have seen good footages by TVK and TV3 about co-sponsored concerts between Cambodia and Thailand. They organized it in Thailand but they live broadcast it. We may as well do the same from our side. I can say that normalization of relation between the two countries has resumed in full. On December 19, there will be this 60th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Cambodia and Thailand and the Foreign Minister Kasit Phiromya of Thailand will be present in this remarkable event./.