Moving Far from More Teaching Less
I am so pleased to join with all of you in the presentation of pedagogy degrees of Master of Education Management and Basic French-Khmer Language Skill to 1,256 graduates in the National Institute of Education (NIE) today. It is my 18th time here since 1996. I came to this NIE between six and seven times each year to present diplomas for private foundations of educations and in some cases events organized by other institutions. I remember that in 1996 or 1997, we met under makeshift tents. I am glad that I contributed, with Oknha Mong Rithy, to set up this building. We have two other buildings like this – one in the Agricultural University at Chamkar Doung and another at Svay Rieng. We have a bigger one in Kien Svay.
Today we are welcoming more human resources. In 1979, we encountered so many difficulties. I always have those pictures in my mind when we first started in a situation that those who knew much taught those who knew little, those who knew little taught those who knew nothing. It was a hard beginning. Some teachers in those days were under retraining programs. Though we had started our education under empty Buddhist monk or people’s homes, we had trained some people to become teachers, professors, intellectuals of all disciplines. Some teachers from primary education level those days seemed to have retired already. Teachers with training provided by regional pedagogical schools and those who passed training in a formula of bachelor + 1 (year of pedagogical formulation) are taking over.
Education and Health – Recruit Every Year
With regard to education, I may bring to your attention that only two ministries allowed to recruit staff every year. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports recruits additional staff of 5,000 every year. Another ministry to have this priority is the Ministry of Health. I could remember that in 1995, Mr. Lakhan Mehrotra who worked for UNDP on public reform, came to discuss issue with me at my house at Vimean Ekreach and advised that Cambodia must reduce its civil servants by half. We did have a big number of staff in those days because we merged staff from the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front and Funcinpec, whereas Khmer Rouge was not yet part of the peace deal … We cannot bring the number of teachers and medical staff down. We only have to add more. More children are born and growing up. They need healthcare and education. I had his attention about my determination. Now, what I said then proved to be correct. Compared to before war, we now have more than 110,000 teachers and some four millions students.
Not only we have tried to set up primary education in local areas, we also realize our aim of having one junior secondary school in one commune so that children and youth have access to education, especially for the benefit of daughters. Please allow me to give all the best wishes to female students here today on the event of 105th International Women’s Day. Reforms conducted by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports so far bore positive repercussion to yield a good result that we wanted. The Royal Government of Cambodia made great efforts to increase national budget to promote and improve education. We have planned to increase minimum salary of maternity and new teachers to 800,000 Riel or about two hundred USD.
Budget Objective for 2018, 12% Increase of Salary in April
By 2018, the minimum salary would be one million Riel. We have to make many efforts to guarantee what we will provide for officials and the armed forces will not lead to borrowing money from bank or printing more money. We have made some tests in the first two months of this year on incomes and expenses. We get a gist that we are going to be able to carry it through. I asked the Ministers of Economy and Finance, and Public Functions, to discuss about issue of increase allowance for wives and children of the Royal Government officials and armed forces. We did it before but failed to do so in 2015 and 2016. In just days ahead, we will have to guarantee paychecks for March and early month paychecks for April before the Khmer New Year.
I already signed the sub-decree relating to increase of salary. We need to be careful when there are frequent payments like this – late March and early April, in addition to a 12% increase of salary compared to last year. The amount of money will be big in market that requires careful cash management. Treasury department, while cashing in late March, early April, will also have to get ready for paychecks of May in the third weeks too.
Information Technology Serves Financial and Public Administration Reforms
I hope that our teachers, officials and armed forces understand what we need to do to manage a state. We cannot afford to make empty promises. As far as financial and public administration reforms are concerned, we have ensured our staff get their paychecks before end of the month. It was a good thing. Information technology help reduce corruption and irregularities of all sorts on top of the fact that we have cash in hands thanks to our reforms. We have also proceeded to cashing our staff through bank, which also diminished irregularities involved. We had cut out issue of ghost officials. We now are in the stage of using information technology to combat corruption and irregularities in using banking system. People also will pay tax through banking system. We must work together to make this happen […]
Making Cambodian Diploma Valuable
I am so happy with all efforts made, especially those by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. I hope that insults made by some about Cambodian education and diploma will go diminishing through our efforts to increase and strengthen quality (of education). Politicians gravely insulted local education and diploma. We need to convert our sufferings into our actions to prove that we are not what they said we are. We cannot conclude those educated abroad would do better than those studied in the country. They may know language better … but it is not only language alone. Here, you have gone through a twelve-year education, plus university and pedagogy – making it all 16 or 17 years. It would take up to twenty years to get to Ph. D. degree./.