In addition to the prepared text, Samdech Techo has made his extempore comments and recommendations on following topics.
In order to provide additional inputs to the conference for direction setting and preparation of the education strategic plan 2012-2013, I would like to provide a number of recommendations as follows:
First: The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport must strengthen and expand the education of children at the primary level to be further improved and more extensive by paying attention to the promotion of the curriculum at the senior nursery level in order to achieve success in both quantity and quality at the primary level…
Second: The MoEYS must pay high attention to the factor of quantity and quality by ensuring the efficiency of the implementation of the academic curriculum and the promotion of study in the fields of mathematics, science, technologies, foreign languages and social science…
Third: The MoEYS must strengthen and accelerate the non-formal education system to be in line with the formal education system by increasing closer cooperation with all development partners in order to collect all dropped out students, over-school aged children and citizens who lost opportunity for education to get back to school based on the “Professional Literacy or Distance Learning Programs” …
Illiteracy and Letters-Forgetting Challenges
At this point, I wish to add that we also have this challenge of illiteracy but also letters-forgetting issue. I could recall that at some stage in the past, we had to bring this issue up and conducted review classes. Why did that happen? It happened because those people had less means to improve their learning, for example no newspapers to read, etc., because they lived in faraway places. With lack of reading habit and nothing to read, those people faced with the challenge of forgetting the learned letters. I think this is a point of concern and deserves our attention as well.
Fourth: The Ministries in charge of education and higher education must pay attention to the skill development such as engineering, industry, mine and energy, agriculture, science and technology, especially promote and enhance the scientific research among students and teachers to be more comprehensive and conform to the context of socio-economic development …
Fifth: The MoEYS must try to strengthen the implementation of law on education and legal documents to be more efficient as well as strengthening the planning and statistics of education …
Sixth: The MoEYS must increase firm attention on youth development by encouraging and providing positive attributes and opportunity to students to be able to develop their potential in education for jobs, health, participatory decision making, contributing to family and community development and national development with high responsibility, hope and self-confidence …
Seventh: The MoEYS must increase the link between the content of academic curriculum at all levels to the education of morality, culture, customs, tradition, respect of rights and dignity of human being, as well as promoting the respect of the principles of freedom, democracy and justice …
A Fight with the Journalists
In addition to the above, I would make a few points in relation to the issue of wilful persons, who have now become a serious concern not only among youngsters alone but senior people too. Last night there was an incident involving an under-secretary of state in the Ministry of Justice in a fight with journalists in the street. Having caused traffic accident, this group of people did not allow the press to take their pictures, but also inflicted injury upon some journalists. I am waiting to see what (legal action) will be taken on this David Chanaiwa. It seems to me that is the same old face. This time an under-secretary of state is involved.
In fact, David Chanaiwa has gone through indictment several times on ground of shooting spree and driving car in the public garden. How come he managed to get himself cleared. I am waiting to see now if he is going to get himself clear too this time. I doubted it. As for the undersecretary of state of the Ministry of Justice, who is from the Funcinpec Party, I already wrote to Deputy Prime Minister HE Nhek Bunchhay to remove him from his portfolio and send to court. I found it hard to believe that this man has already disappeared.
Worst of all, it is the same case, why does it have to be one person staying in custody while another one staying out. They should be treated as one package of criminal offense. When I probed, they told me that the person already escaped. Where does he go? We are in pursuit of our motto of “today and tomorrow without traffic accident,” but these men were having their car races and causing damages to public property such as electric poles. Beating the journalists has doubled their guilty acts. As they are over forty already, it is not correct to refer to them as wilful youngsters.
Decreasing Budget Percentage for Education
Another point that I also heard and discussed with H.E. Jean-François Cautain, Ambassador of the European Union relates to decreasing percentage of budget on education. I admit that and I advocate growth in educational budget too. It is true that the amount of cash pledged for education is bigger from year to year. However, as far as how many percentages allocated from education, health or social affairs has not yet responded to the level we want.
In the year 2000, after gaining peace, I set the aim of reducing the number of soldiers from 130,000 to 60,000 only. That was my target. I wanted to do so because I had in mind that the leftover will be for the Ministry of Education and Health. Unfortunately, we were able to reduce only 10,000 soldiers from the list. In fact, even now we are continuing to promote more reduction according to program we can. We cannot just tell them to go home.
It was quite unfortunate that we did not make success on this problem. While we also had this trouble along the border, we need to keep the number of soldiers as it is. However, we are striving to restore the previous curve. I thank the Ambassador of the European Union for paying his attention on this matter to me. I agree with his recommendations but I also encourage us to make own efforts to in addition to the supports that we are gaining from partners.
Four Primary Needs of the People
Further, I would like to bring to the attention once again on land titling and distribution among people, which, as I said on several occasions already, will not be a target to achieve alone. After receiving their proper land titles and lands, primarily our people will need four basic supports – roads, water, schools and healthcare services. It is common that because of peace, our people are getting farther into the remote areas to cultivate. That was not the case when the country was at war. People would not even go to the Preah Sihanouk province for insecurity. That time there was almost regular ambush along the road somewhere near Pij Nil area. Now peace prevails, people go wherever they wish to.
This has also brought about a situation that they encroached upon forestland, where in actuality has become their cultivation areas of various crops already. Since these actions took place in a fast and concerted manner, we have been slow to organize the establishment of their villages and to respond to their four basic needs. For your information, I have responded to a number of urgent demands for school buildings, through the youth-student volunteers, for people in land measuring areas of provinces of Uddar Meanjei, Preah Vihear, Stoeng Treng and Kratie.
Of course, there are other needs too like micro-finance to support their business activities but first to address the four basic demands. I am urging the ministries and institutions concerned to take into consideration these recommendations. The Ministry of Rural Development needs to pay attention on road access issue, the Ministry of Water Resource and Meteorology on irrigation, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports on schooling, and Ministry of Health on healthcare issue.
We need to make another step following the ‘new action on existing land policy’ to ensure schooling in areas that they are working for development. Our people are dispersing further out, whereas the Royal Government is investing the state fund as well as the fund accumulated from resource shared by charitable persons to provide them with the four basic needs. We are doing so to ensure equitable and tandem development process or people will not be able to work on the provided land and their children cannot have access to education, which could lead to school dropout. We also need to ensure that healthcare services are within their reach.
Cooperation with Mali
I wish to give HE Im Setthi, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports to handle a work for me. I am in the cooperation with Mali through Ms Eva Mysliwiec, who, after leaving Cambodia, went to work in Mali. Before coming to Cambodia, she used to work in Mali. After her father died, she came to Cambodia for a three-month project. It turned out to be thirty years for her. She even is holding a Cambodian nationality too. Now she returns to Mali. Before she left, because of political stability in the country I told her to look into any area of interest that Cambodia could be of assistance, for instance schooling, etc.
She and her team then worked on a school project. They purchased land and raised fund and resource from various partners. I also contributed a part of it for the construction of the school project. Only recently, the school director requests for my permission to call it ‘School of Samdech Hun Sen’ and for a representative to join them in the inauguration of the school in months ahead. I think I am going to send the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports for this event. As we now have cooperation project, it is also good to share experiences.
A while ago, I got a request from Guinea, who was looking to buy rice from Cambodia but also needed our agricultural expertise. While under discussion, there was a military coup in Guinea. Last year, President of Guinea conducted a visit to Cambodia. He request the purchase of Cambodian rice and provision of agricultural assistance. I agreed and both sides need to exchange how the project would proceed. As we got helps by various developed countries, we also have the ability to share our experiences with other countries too. For example, we have our army in Sudan, Lebanon, and formerly in Chad and Central African Republic. We also had our men in the preliminary observation operation phase in Syria. Our military medical staff in Sudan provided treatment for the Sudanese but also foreign diplomats.