Saturday, March 21, 2009

Closing of Stocktaking Conference of Education, Youth and Sport Affairs and Direction Setting For Next School Years

Phnom Penh, 18th March 2009

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, International and National Guests,

Dear all participants!

Today, it is my great honor and pleasure to attend the closing of “Stocktaking Conference of Education, Youth and Sport Affairs and Direction Setting For Next School Years” of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport at the moment.

On behalf of the Royal Government and my own behalf, I would like to extend high compliment and appreciation to Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen who are the leaders and officials of all levels of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport for your broad and comprehensive discussion on the subject matter and set direction for next school years to strengthen the quality of education aiming at realizing the “Education for All” strategy by ensuring equity in 9-year basic education for all children.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to convey high compliment and appreciation to professors, teachers, parents and guardians of students, civil society, NGOs, donors and local authority nation-wide for making efforts to responsibly fulfill the tasks during the last school year for the cause of promoting the education sector which is the requirement for national social development in accordance with the will of the Royal Government of the Fourth Legislature of the National Assembly.

At the same time, I would like to thank all development partners for their active contribution to the rehabilitation, establishment and development of the education, youth and sport sector in Cambodia through official development assistance (ODA) and all kinds of material, financial and technical supports aiming at raising the quality of education, youth and sport and make prideful achievement. I have noticed that the 3-day meeting’s agenda has been more open and efficient by achieving 2 things simultaneously, namely the stocktaking of last school year and reviewing the implementation of the Education Strategic Plan (ESP) and Education Sector Support Programme (ESSP) with active participation from relevant parties and all development partners. So far, these tasks have been done separately to achieve the same objective i.e. to improve and develop education work for new school years ahead in the new stage.

In the 21st century, an era of knowledge and information, physical, intellectual and spiritual power of human which includes knowledge, know-how, innovation and the creativity of human resource are determinants which transform economic potential and comparative advantages of the nation to reality and become the competitive advantage of the nation. Without high quality human resource, everything will be suspended and no value added will be created for the nation. In this spirit, the Royal Government always considers the education sector, particularly human resource development and the efficient usage of intellectual capital as the foremost priority at the present. Taking this opportunity, I would like to reiterate that the Royal Government keep giving high priority to capacity building and human resource development through supporting strategic plan and priorities program of Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport in order to continuously raise the quality and efficiency of education at level, which answers appropriately and timely to the Royal Government policy’s on capacity building and human resource development for ensuring Cambodia’s competitiveness in integrating herself into the region and the world.

Furthermore, I have witnessed that despite some of the challenges encountered during the last school year, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport was still able to make remarkable achievements contributing to the implementation of all sectors reforms by giving particular focus on capacity building and institutional development which is the prerequisite for socio-economic development.

During the Third Legislature of the National Assembly, the Royal Government had attained prideful progress in developing the education, youth and sport sector by increasing the number of schools and teachers and to attract more enrollments from year to year. Along with this, the Royal Government has made significant progress in promoting partnership with development partners in the education sector including formal partners, NGOs and the private sector. Through this policy, remarkable achievements have been made in the education sector.

The Royal Government will continue to implement the Education Strategic Plan by linking education to human rights and dignity and providing equal opportunity for every Cambodian regardless of race, color, sex, language, religion, politics, origin, and social status. Moreover, the Royal Government will continue to be committed to improving the education quality by motivating teachers, fine-tuning education programs, providing incentives to first-class students, investing in training programs, improving teaching methodologies, bettering educational environment and teaching facilities, and establishing libraries and laboratories.

As already stressed in my letter at last year’s opening of the new academic year, the Royal Government considered the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport as a prioritized ministry; and education remains a key strategy for poverty reduction and sustainable development. In this regard, the efficient and quality education development will enable us to bring about peace, political stability, security, social order and human rights and dignity to our society.

With regard to duty fulfillment in the new academic year, we must stress on quality improvement at all levels of education in order to promote Cambodia’s competitiveness in the regional and global economic system. In this sense, we must continue to pay special attention to improving education quality in public and private schools and other educational institutions by mobilizing resources from all sources for increasing investment in the education sector in terms of materials, counseling, curriculum development, and teaching quality. Moreover, we must try to direct our attention to vocational training to enable students to earn their livings in the society, by starting with simple vocational trainings in agriculture, handicraft, and production sectors.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to raise some recommendations for your consideration as basic directions in strengthening the education quality as follows:

1. Ensuring Equitable Access to Education Services Policy:

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport must enable children to attend schools through:

a. Expending the early childhood education programs especially for 5 year-old children. We must target those communes with low enrollment rate and high repetition rate in primary schools by cooperating closely with commune/sangkat authorities to conduct regular and appropriate census. By doing this, we can eliminate illiteracy among the people and take part in reducing social misconducts which are worrisome and challenging to us.

b. Reducing the repetition and drop-out rates in all grades by urging the commune councils and school managements to disseminate the importance of education and by providing incentives and scholarships to outstanding and poor students, especially female students.

c. Increasing the enrolment rate in grades 7 – 9 and grades 10 – 12 by taking into account the balance between quality and quantity.

d. Encouraging broader participation from the private sector and the community at all levels of education by cooperating closely with commune councils, national and international community to develop the education sector in accordance with the motto that goes “Schools is Closely Linked with Families and the Society”.

e. Constructing new schools to accommodate the increasing number of students from year to year, in which we must pay attention to building more schools which are close to the people’s residence in order to reduce cost burden of students and parents and building dormitories for poor students, especially female students in order to achieve gender equity in the education sector.

f. Strengthening the informal education to be parallel with the formal counterpart by strengthening cooperation with all development partners to enable drop-out students and people without access to education to rejoin schooling in professional literacy classes to accommodate out-of-school children and youths who have become victims of drug and gang activities.

2. Education Quality and Efficiency Improvement Policy:

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and other relevant ministries/institutions have to prepare the framework of good governance, and make themselves effective institutions with high responsibility at the central, municipal, provincial and district and school levels. For the practical implementation, the related ministries/institutions have to pay attention to the security and safety in schools and academic institutions in order to ensure that teaching and learning are being improved with high quality and efficiency and the delivery of education can actually reach the locality and all corners of the country and this work has to be implemented along with the development of the educational institutions and the ability of teachers and academicians at all levels. Along with that, the education related institutions have to find ways to eliminate the negative activities which cause troubles for the education sector, especially to improve and expand the academic curriculum in social morality, noble tradition and custom of our society, which will sustain the virtue, value and identity of the nation.

3. Capacity Building and Institutional Development for Decentralization Policy:

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the National Committee for Democratic Development at the Sub-national Level and related ministries/institutions must put great efforts in coordinating human resources, materials and budget in order to strengthen the monitoring, inspection and the education evaluation system, staff management and the use of financial resources in order to implement the functional decentralization in the education sector during the time that we are preparing to conduct the first election for city, provincial/municipal, district/khan councils in the upcoming May. I strongly believe that the functional decentralization in education will allow us to utilize the skilled officials in the right target and be able to deploy those officials to the local communities in order to ensure the efficiency and quality of education all over the country.

4. Effective use of Official Development Assistance:

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and development partners have to set the areas of priorities as illustrated in the Education Strategic Plan (ESP) and Education Sector Support Programme (ESSP) on Education Harmonization in order to achieve the positive result in the process of education reform at all levels.

Once again, I would like to thank and highly evaluate the leadership of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, professors, teachers and all academic staff as well as the national and international communities and donors, who have made joint efforts in fulfilling their duties and providing both technical and material supports for the development of the education sector in Cambodia with the noticeable result during the last academic year. Along with that, I would like to request the national and international communities, the private sector, civil societies, non-governmental organizations and all donors to provide further support and coordinate well with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport aiming at transforming the working objectives of the new academic year to become an action plan and practical program with excellent result as expected by the conference. Moreover, I would like to appeal to the families, parents and guardians of the students to continue advising their children by cooperating with professors, teachers and all academic staff in order to build a society with sustainable, equitable development with interconnected organisms and highly educated people with proper living conditions and a harmonious living either in the society or families.

I hope that this cooperation effort is being made for the cause of mobilizing our forces and resources in order to contribute to the implementation of the four principle pillars of education, i.e. “good child, good student, good friend and good citizen” by not allowing any students to plunge into committing immoral, anarchic and immature acts in the society. It is clear that the effort in building and developing the education sector is not just for the pride of Cambodia, but for human pride as a whole.

At this end, with the “Closing of Stocktaking Conference of Education, Youth and Sport Affairs and Direction Setting For Next School Years” of the MoEYS, I would like to wish Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, national and international guests the four Gems of Buddhist Blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.”


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