Proud to See CUS Growing Development
I have a great pleasure today to join with all of you in bestowing diplomas for 6,251 graduates of the Cambodian University of Specialty (CUS). Please allow me to apologize for choosing to come on this day that we are still in the holiday of Phjum Ben. As I have a very busy schedule, I have no choice other than to propose that we meet today or I would have to send someone to represent me. It was fortunate that the rector Chan Sokhom as well as management of the CUS and students found my suggestion acceptable and understood the difficulty I had in relation to my work schedules.
I have a great pleasure because on various occasions I had the honor of presiding over the graduation and diploma presenting ceremony for the CUS event. With this pride and honor, I am pleased to note progress of CUS that is growing itself from being a small one to the current size, contributing to the overall development of education in the Kingdom of Cambodia. CUS now has nine buildings of 356 classrooms covering services in various provinces. CUS also provided tertiary education to over 26,000 students who, 96.39% of them already found their jobs. CUS has some 10,430 students pursuing their studies.
Graduations and Diplomas Presenting Showcase Progress in All Fields
I am thankful to the serious measures taken in strengthening management capacity as well as increasing quality for tertiary educational level. I would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation for the graduates who will receive their diplomas today. I hope that human resource as a whole that we have worked together to achieve a better results will offer significant contribution for Cambodia’s progress and development in all fields. We will try to realize in this sense an economic growth of 7% per annum and lower poverty level in context of low inflation.
I hope that graduates receiving their diplomas today will not abandon their studies and research no matter what level of education they may have achieved now. I have urged on various occasions that graduates should keep on doing research and study, not only according to their ability but also making it a must. Situation evolves and could pick up speed anytime. We may not be catching up with it and risk of being a conservative person and for being so, danger could arise.
An Increase in Teachers’ Salary
I have a strong hope on contributions from every section of society in our country in the promotion and development of human resources. We have proven to carry the task through in the past 37 years already. From my visits to provinces and speaking to numerous teachers in local educational levels, a majority of them has had their salary and benefit together up to over one million Riel (a month) already. For next year, net salary, sometimes referred to as the minimum monthly salary, for teachers will reach over 900,000 Riel, not yet including other benefits. This year, teachers’ salary stands at 805,000 Riel, and will reach to 853,500 Riel in April and continues to increase until it reaches 953,500 Riel. Those teaching in rural areas will also enjoy their regional benefits from an extra payment of 80,000 to 100,000 and even 120,000 Riel. I did remind those teachers that when they were in schools, their teachers then taught for rice and later nine basic items. The Government officials also worked for the same stuff. We survived and progressed together.
Education Reform Serves Long-term Development
You may as well know that (regional and world) economic condition is not so good. That has brought impacts on our economy too. Take for instance, markets for rice and agricultural produces. However, to grow another 7% of our economy is not hard to achieve. This year we are sure that we will achieve 7% economic growth. However, we must strive together to achieve the goal. I hope that our human resource – that we have trained since when the country was in difficult condition with small number of properly trained teachers – will have roles in it. In those days, those with six years education had to teach those in fourth year. Now we have ascertained a new standard. We may end our practice of a nine years plus two years to make someone a teacher. We may start soon a twelve years plus two years system.
Sometimes a teacher received diplomas from me twice – once at the Royal University of Phnom Penh and again at the National Institute of Education. It is like moving up the stairs where one stair up is higher than before. We are making efforts together to ensure such progress. Along with this, deeper reform in education increases human attentions and efforts on education. The various measures taken by the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports (MoEYS) have been steps leading us to a better education standard, with better quality and serving Cambodia’s long-term development. Well, growing a fruit tree you may expect it to give fruit in six or seven years. Growing a human resource would take us at least 16 years for them to get their bachelor degrees. For anyone to go for higher would need to spend 18 years and for PhD would have to work on a twenty years time.
Sometimes, with higher education, some would not be able to do a very good job. Some PhD holders could not do everything. Some with PhD degrees know many things but they would not be able to explain and make other people understand. Some would be great in writing. Human are born to be of different ability.
Hailing High School Graduates and Progress in Education
However, no matter how different we may be in term of ability, we are sharing one common objective to build our country. On this point, I would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere congratulation to all graduates today – including also Buddhist monks who just finished their studies too. I am sharing joys with parents, spouses, siblings, and/or superintendants of all graduates for making joint efforts to let them hold on to chances and transform themselves into intellectuals for our country.
With this congratulatory message on education sector as a whole, the CUS progress in particular, and the efforts made personally for this achievement today, I would take this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks for scholarships that CUS has kindly provided to me. I am sure some of the students here are present because of the scholarships they received from me.
Win-win Policy Brings about Peace
I would like to take this opportune moment to address on a number of issues after we have spent some holiday times during the Phjum Ben festivity. First, I have made trips to 20 provinces/cities out of 25. I still have trips to make to the remaining ones in the near future. However, since my schedule is so tight, we are going to have some guests coming to visit our country, and I will have to go for meetings in foreign countries, I am seeking your understanding that the trips will be rescheduled to a later dates. For Phnom Penh, I think I would not have to go to meet people but bring them to Koh Pich. I am calling on HE Pa Socheatvong, Mayor of Phnom Penh, to make an appointment. Kandal, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng are not far from Phnom Penh too. I will go to Pailin. I will go Bangteay Meanjei again. I still have to make a trip to Koh Kong, though.
While traveling in provinces, I was of a long thought on how those places would be should war did not stop. I travelled thousands of Kilometers and about two third of my journey was passing through former battlefields – for instance my voyage from Preah Vihear to Uddar Meanjei. I travelled to Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri (in the northeast) and came back down to Stoeng Treng. I took the National Road 9 and turned down to the districts of Chheb and Rovieng. I was on deep thought should there be no win-win policy, what those places would have become? The districts of Chheb and Rovieng were formerly military stronghold of the former state of Cambodia’s division 5, who stood guard between Preah Vihear and Kompong Thom.
I did not take the National 62 though. I took a different one to see the protected zone of Boeng Pe, which is a part of Prey Long. The trip was on partly paved and partly unpaved roads. I noticed sea of palm trees (Trang) of which a few years ago not much left. It was the same in cases of Kompong Speu, Kompong Chhnang, Takeo, etc. where palm trees were chopped off for trees or leaves. People need palm leaves for roofing. Now people no longer need palm leaves for roof anymore because there are plenty of alternatives – tiles, corrugated zinc, cement, etc. That has explained too why there are more palm trees growing. This is the benefit of peace that we have made efforts to achieve altogether.
Urban and Rural Education Development
I have a great pleasure to see that in the course of my trips to provinces, teachers and parents made building schools for their kids a bigger request. I have noticed educational development in comparison between those in rural and urban areas. I am so proud to see a high school that I visited in Kon Mom district of Ratanakiri, all twenty two students passed the exams. Last year 98% of them did too. It was quite encouraging. I reached the district of Rovieng in Preah Vihear, about 78% of their high school students passed. In the whole country, Mondulkiri has the highest rate of high school students who passed exam – 80.80%. While in Phnom Penh and Kandal, some schools, only 44% of their students passed the exams. Maybe students in rural areas did not suffer distractions from their studies.
Please Go and Register for Voting Right
After we spent a holiday during Phjum Ben, please allow me to make some appeals here. Firstly, I am calling on people to continue to register for their voting rights in response to appeal by the National Elections Committee. It has been made known that there have been nearly four million registering for their voting rights. In this instance, I am calling on everyone who has not registered for votes yet to do so.
Please Purchase Rice from Our Farmers
We have rice cultivated in odd season in three provinces – Banteay Meanjei, Battambang and Pursat, and we did not have market for it. I am calling on our people to continue to purchase rice from our farmers. People cultivated the Sen Kro Ob rice and they have harvested a sum that is exceeding exporting ability. Thailand also had the same problem. Vietnam’s rice export also fell by 23%. We suffered some percentage too. Many people have their ability to produce for own consumption, for instance Japan. Though industrialized, Japan did not have rice shortage problem and they even exported their food abroad. Many countries exported their foods to Cambodia. We may find cheese, foie gras, butter, red wines, etc. in our market. They are foreign products. I am now addicted to Japanese ice cream. I tasted a small bit from my grandchildren’s ice cream and now I am in the habit of taking one or two before going to bed.
Only One Goal Achieved
I am calling on people to continue to purchase rice from farmers. Some millers would not need fund from the Royal Government but they also had to purchase rice not less than 840 Riel per kilogram for dried rice delivered to millers. I have seen people are drying their rice and I am calling on farmers to go on doing that. Our country formerly imported rice for own consumption. However, when we formulated and put into practice this policy to export over one million ton of milled rice by 2015, we achieved only one of our goals. We have ascertained a surplus of 4.8 million tons in the cultivating year of 2015/2016. However, we failed to realize our goal of exporting one million tons of milled rice.
We see the need now to increase our ability to have more drying silos, warehouses, and fund to purchase rice. We are facing with tough competitions too. In the Middle East, our rice could not break into their markets because they are accustomed to rice from India. Our best quality rice is finding its market in Europe instead. Poland was the first biggest country that buys rice from Cambodia. France stands in second.
Keeping Water for Cultivation
Thirdly, I am calling on our people to keep water in their reservoirs. It is now sure that we would not have flood calamity from the Mekong seasonal flooding. We may have flash flood from rain in some areas though. Our forecast of seasonal flooding to 9.30 meters in Phnom Penh had in fact reached its maximum level of only 8.13 meters in 22 September. The Ministry of Water Resource and Meteorology already started a few weeks now pumping water into reservoirs along the Mekong, the Bassac and Tonle Sap Rivers for our people to cultivate flood recession and dry season rice. However, people must also make efforts to keep water on their own for cultivation of those rice species. I am sure our people know what to do and will reap a good harvest from it … Please protect your dams and/or reservoirs and prevent people from digging them open for fish.
Boat Racing at 5.9 Meters Level in Tonle Sap River
On another note, according to forecast, water in the Tonle Sap river by the time of boat racing ceremony will stay at 5.9 meters – more or less similar to in 2003. On average, we organize boat race when the level of water in the river is 6.95 meters. Last year we cancelled the ceremony because water was at its lowest level – 3.41 meters. Fortunately, the water level this year will allow us to organize boat race during the water festival event. I also wish to share with you that on the day of ending rainy season, there will be a boat-racing event on 16 October in Takhmao town. I would not fail to attend.
Since the water level is low, I am sure there will be a number of difficulties concerning bringing long racing boats out from small rivers to the Mekong or Tonle Sap rivers. I am calling on the pagodas committees to figure out the safe way to bring their boats down and send for the boat-racing event in Phnom Penh … It is indeed our tradition to have boat race in the water festival event and this year we will resume it …/.