Monday, March 9, 2009

Keynote Address at the Inauguration Ceremony of the Women’s Dormitory at the Cambodia Institute of Technology

12th December 2007

- Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

- Distinguished National and International Guests,

- Dear Lecturers, Personnel and Students!

Today, I have an honour and pleasure to join Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, and all students in the inauguration ceremony of the first-ever Women’s Dormitory in Cambodia, which consists of 6 buildings. The construction 5 of these buildings were funded by the government; and another building, dormitory for female students of the Institute of Technology of Cambodia, is funded by the Embassy of France in cooperation with the Belgium’s Francophone University Network.

In this occasion, I am particularly proud because I as well as Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, all national and international friends have realised the long-awaited dream; also it is a long-awaited wish of students’ parents, female students and our society to have this women’s dormitory.

Indeed, this dormitory is another achievement in the education sector, which is a priority sector for promoting human resource development in the country. I believe this achievement will further contribute to the success of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport as well as of the government that always regard education as a poverty reduction strategy to lead people to prosperity and a new stage of quality reform.

On the behalf of the Royal Government and on my behalf, I appreciate the efforts made by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport for its achievements in human resource development; and promoting gender equality aiming at supplying to the Cambodian society with competent human resources, both male and female, who have high knowledge, ethics and virtue in order to step into the globalisation movement of the 21st century.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my profound gratitude to the French Government and its People through H.E. Jean - François Desmazières, the French Ambassador in Cambodia; and to the Belgium’s Francophone University Network through Prof. Guy Warzee who are present here for their supports in the construction of the women’s dormitory of the Cambodia Institute of Technology within the cooperation framework to development the higher education in Cambodia.

Clearly, giving attention to female students is a response to the requirement of gender policy of the Royal Government that is striving to achieve equality between males and females under the vision that “Women Are the Mother of the World, Women are Vital Components for Social Development”.

Cambodia’s history recorded hundreds years ago the heroism of some Khmer heroic women such as Princess Liv Yi, Princess Jayadevi and Princess Indradevi who made sacrifices for the sake of the nation, territory, education and welfare of the people. This marks the maternity regime that provides women with the key roles and leadership in the society, leading to the balanced and sustainable development in the society.

At the same time, it should be noted that females account for 52% of the total population. Cambodian national society has its unique characters; firstly – in giving loves and attentions to daughters, and sometimes some strictness occur in the culture in terms of freedom on Cambodian females, which is caused by loves and concerns. Secondly – it is the nature of our society. Men and women in the Cambodian society, since long ago, have been living in family harmony and providing to their children a role model; the harmony in each family has transformed into the harmony in the society as a whole. Presently, although some violence and injustices affect Cambodian female teenagers and women, we immediately understand that this phenomenon is caused by lengthy civil war but it does not represent the nature of Cambodian people. The objective and efforts of the Royal Government is to reunite the Cambodian national identity and character that have been damaged by those wars. Thirdly – rights and justice for Cambodian female teenagers and women must be addressed, especially regarding the gender discrimination. We never forget that rights and freedom of Cambodian women were entirely eliminated in the Pol Pot Genocide Regime.

After the collapse of the Pol Pot’s Regime on 7th of January 1979, everything has been rehabilitated and rebuilt. Women’s rights, freedom and contribution in social developments receive attention from the Royal Government; and this is the agenda and priority actions in the present government’s policy and rectangular strategy.

In implementing the Constitution and the newly ratified Law on Education, the Royal Government makes all necessary efforts to train teachers as well as to expand education infrastructure; many secondary and high schools have been built close to villages to facilitate student’s learning, especially for female students, and a number of scholarship programs have also been provided to rural female students.

Particularly, in the education policy of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, female students are the focused targets that must be given special attention and provided adequate opportunity to go to schools, as stated in the section 6 of the 1993 Constitution which ensures the provision of education to all citizens equitably and indiscriminately regarding sex, religion, position and social class. Everyone must at least complete primary schools and the 9-year basic education. Out of more than 3 million students attending primary and secondary schools, we are delighted to note that female students account for nearly 50% of the total students, approximately 1,536,104 students. This figure correctly responds to the proportion of 52% females among total population of more than 14 million.

The numbers of male and female students receiving profession trainings in associate, bachelor or postgraduate programs are almost identical, namely male and female students account for 11.8% and 11.6% of the total population respectively. Due to the active effort of the Royal Government, with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport as the agent responsible for promoting gender equality, the number of female students attending higher education programs increases significantly from year to year. In 2000, female students attending higher education programs accounted for 25.5% of the total students, and this figure reached 35.5% of the total students, amounted to 97,330 students in 2007. Within that, training females in technology have made significant progress as evidenced by the percentage of female students studying at the Cambodian Institute of Technology have increased from 2%, 10 years ago, to 17.8% in 2007.

Although these numbers demonstrate positive and inspiring milestone, however long-term strategy and goal of the government is to further promote equality between women and men in tertiary education. Because of this factor, the women’s dormitory has been built as evidence and to ensure that a large proportion of poor female students in the remote provinces have the chance to study in the capital as well.

These are some of my reflections, in addition to the report of H.E. Kol Pheng, Sr. Minister, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, showing that great attention has been given to women as important development partner in society.

Policies and practical activities of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Ministry of Woman Affairs and other ministries and institution, as well as civil society, international organizations and non-governmental organizations are credible contributions towards implementing Rectangular Strategy in promoting rights, freedom and roles of women.

In this spirit, I would like to appeal to all ministries and institutions both public and private to give further attention to following priority activities:

1. Eliminate the notion that “Women are weak and can not do anything like men except cooking”.

2. Eliminate discriminations by sex, religion, social class which are root to violence and inappropriate treatment.

3. Develop new culture by raising status of women, respecting women rights, providing women with the legitimate roles according to the spirit of the International Woman Day of 8th March and encouraging women to participate and lead social movements.

4. Make more efforts to enable all female students to have access to education, both in-system and out-system, to ensure that they gain knowledge, know-how and good moral to support livelihood of their family and society, to increase number of female students continuing high education by granting scholarships and appropriate accommodations at both public and private education institutions.

5. Continue to seek assistance and support from development partners within the framework of national and international cooperation in order to enhance education, learning and vocational training at all levels, within that the priority must be given to female to train and enable woman to be capable and to be employable like men without differentiation and discrimination.

Before ending, I would like to reiterate my thanks to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports for exerting efforts to implement government’s policies and fulfilling their duties in the education and developing human resources with virtue and morals; this will be transformed into the future true pillars of the nation. I would like to thank again Your Excellency, the French Ambassador to Cambodia and Belgium’s Francophone University Network for their cooperation to construct this women’s dormitory at the Cambodia Institute of Technology; this will contribute to resolve the difficulties in accommodation of female students who do not have any relative in capital city and will also encourage the Cambodian female youth to study in technology subjects.

In particular, I would like to convey my high appreciation to France and Belgium counterparts for their moral and financial supports for more than 10 years to the Institute of Technology of Cambodia, and many other different assistancews relating to training process and quality improvement of high education in Cambodia and other development projects, which are the foundation for Cambodia to step in into the regional and world globalization movement.

Indeed, this cooperation is special because it bases on support and response to the facing needs of Cambodia in relation to human resource and base on respect of sovereignty. May the spirit of this cooperation remain long-lasting and the Royal of Government of Cambodia is determined and fully supports to ensure the continuity of this cooperation.

At the same time, I would like to recommend the following living principles for the dorm’s students that should be adhered:

1. Make the best use of the opportunity of residing in this dormitory to study hard in order to respond to the expectation of your parents and family who are far away and place their hope on you.

2. Make the best use of the time, while living in community by trying to live as a group and be aware of the boundaries of your own rights and respect the rights of others; enrich the understanding and helping each other, including improve your personality as a foundation to live in society with harmony in the future.

3. Maintain and take care of the equipped facilities like it is your personal belongings in order to enable for new coming students to share the same benefits as you are having at the present time.

Moreover, May I share with parents and guardians the happiness and the relief from concerns regarding the accommodation and safety of their daughters living far away from family.

At the end, I would like to thank and wish Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguish national and international guests, including all students with the rive gems of Buddhist blessings. May I declare the open of this Women’s Dormitory from now on.


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