Monday, April 4, 2011

Address at the 2009 – 2010 Stocktaking and 2010 – 2011 Direction Setting Conference of the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports

Address at the 2009 – 2010 Stocktaking and 2010 – 2011 Direction Setting Conference of the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports

Phnom Penh, March 24, 2011

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen Distinguished National and International Guests,
Dear all Participants!

Today, it is my pleasure to be in the “2009-2010 Stocktaking and 2010-2011 Direction Setting Conference”, which is organized by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. The conference is indeed a great opportunity for all of us, especially the Ministry’s local-level officials, to discuss, exchange experiences and come up with new measures to further education development. Through this, we can also review past progress and identify issues and challenges to ensure equity, quality and efficiency at all levels of education.

In spite of some challenges during the last academic year, the Ministry has made a very encouraging achievement, which will help realize the Rectangular Strategy-Phase II. The development of human resources and physical infrastructure is the key to poverty reduction and improved living standard.

In this spirit, on behalf the Royal Government, I sincerely praise H.E. Im Sethy, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports and all levels of the Ministry’s officials, lecturers, students’ parents and guardians, community, civil organizations, donors and local authorities as well as national and international organizations and development partners for last year’s concerted effort to deliver outstanding result in the education sector that will become a key contribution to future development. All material, financial and technical assistances clearly indicate the ongoing implementation of the “Education for All, All for Education” spirit. In this sense, we expect that all the people will have access to education as set forth in the Millennium Development Goals 2000 – 2015, that were agreed in the 2000 World Education Forum held in Dakar, Senegal. The goal is to ensure all children have access to equitable and quality education regardless of race, color, sex, language, religion, politic, origin and social status. In this spirit, I further encourage the management and all levels of official of the Ministry, related ministries – institutions, related organizations, development partners and the private sector to continue the cooperation and assistance to realize the vision of the education sector development. The rehabilitation and expansion of the education’s physical infrastructure, and human and institutional capacity building not only timely respond to socio-economic development but also promote harmony, anti-violence and anti-discrimination culture in our society.

As I have often mentioned, the Royal Government gives high priority to education, youth and sport sectors as it still remains our strategic front to reduce poverty incidence. Along with this, human resource development remains the determinant for national development since a country’s richness in natural resources does not guarantee that it will become prosperous and developed if quality human resources do not exist, and vice versa

Particularly, in the face of the global economic crisis, many Cambodia’s sectors have been affected but the education sector remained strong and a notable progress has been made. This stems from the concerted effort of all levels of officials in promoting the education sector. As a result, we managed to achieve sustained smoothness in the education sector, which is another proud achievement.

Moreover, we must continue to promote and develop all levels of the education sector. By realizing this, we will be more capable and in better position to conserve, protect and develop our culture and customs. These not only raise the image and dignity of the country, but also allow us to stand alongside other nations based on egalitarian status. These will not only upgrade the prestige and dignity of our nation, but also make us stay on equal footing with equal rights in the international affairs with other countries in the region and the world. For this vision, I would like to appeal to parents and sponsors of all students to participate and continue educating their children to be better educated and on the right path by cooperating with schools in order to build a new generation of youth with development in all sectors, meaning that we have to provide them education, experiences, virtues, morality, dignity and harmonization, to particularly achieve the 4 principles of the basic foundation of education “good children, good students, good friends, and good citizen”.

For the issue of training, I would like to appeal to all levels and sectors of formal and non-formal education system in both public and private sector, starting from primary to higher education, to increase quantity and ensure quality of goods in the context of highly competitive market economy. Thus, we have to be aware that in order to facilitate the export of goods, we have to produce goods with high quality first. These are not different from human resource development, which ensures quality, capability of students in order that they able to be employed according to the social requirement, meaning that they have to study hard and smart with specific skills, not just learn to gain degrees. In this context, I am of the view that education and training must be further improved within the framework of deep reform for quality by paying special attention to the orientation for professional training and jobs for our students, which could be used in families and society by starting from simple technical issues in labor works, production, agriculture and craftsmanship. Along with that, the Ministry of education, youth and sports must actively implement the policies put up so far, in which the education equity in all levels, improvement and promotion of education quality and efficiency, capacity building and institutional development, development partnership with the private sector as well as with national and international organizations, development partners and donors will be ensured.

With the objective to strengthen and expand the quality and efficiency of education sector and additional basis for direction setting of plan of action for 2010-2011 today, I would like to provide a number of key recommendations as follows:

First: continue the policy to ensure the possibility of receiving equitable education service more comprehensively, in which we have to enlarge the small children education programs, especially for the kids of 5 years old by paying attention to the commune/sangkat where the enrolment rate is low and high class repetition in primary schools in cooperation with commune/sangkat in doing census of children regularly and rightly. At the same time, we have to provoke and encourage the commune/sangkat to be aware about the importance and value of education through implementation of incentive program, provision of scholarship for outstanding students, students who face difficulties, especially female students, and enlarge the participation from the private sector and community in all levels of education through good cooperation with the commune/sangkat and national and international community in order to develop education sector based on the principle of “school is connected to families and society”.

Second: continue to build schools in order to response to the increasing number of students annually, in which we have to pay attention to the construction of more schools located close to the houses of the people for the reduction of cost for students and families as well as contributing to the objective of education equality. At the same time, we have to strengthen the non-formal education to be in line with the formal education system by increasing cooperation with the development partners in collecting students, who have dropped their schools, and people, who have lost their opportunity for learning, to study in the illiteracy classes. If these could be done, we will not only be able to strengthen the non-formal education, but also solve the issues of children and youth, who are outside schools, prone to being addicted to drugs, immoral acts as well as being gangsters.

Third: continue to implement the policy of quality improvement and education efficiency, in which there should be the arrangement of good governance, effective institutions and high responsibility in all levels of central level, municipal/provincial level, district/khan level and school level. The actual implementation must be paid attention, especially to ensure stability and safety in schools and education centers in order to improve the activities of teaching and learning in schools and education centers with quality and efficiency. In this regard, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports must strictly control the safety, stability in all public and private education centers, in particular, kindergarten and primary schools, which mainly focus on children.

Fourth: continue the capacity building policy and institutional development for decentralization, in which we have to increase the possibilities and means of fulfilling tasks in materials, budget resources and human resources, monitoring management, inspection, education assessment, staff management, financial utilization, right use of skilled officials and dissemination of staff to the local community in order to ensure more effective and efficient education services.

Fifth: continue to implement with high efficiency the utilization of cooperation financing by illustrating about the necessity among the suitable and achievable cluster of priorities, based on the priorities stated in the Education Strategic Plan 2009-2013, especially by sharing these efforts in the process of education reform in all levels.

These five recommendations, that I have raised above, are meaningful, significant and in line with each priority activity of education sector. Hence, I would like the conference to take these recommendations for consideration in order for us to clearly see the practical tasks for the implementation of the direction of duties of this new academic year and in years ahead because education is long-lasting work that need to be continuously done from year to year and from generation to generation. Truly, these tasks will provide perspectives and spirit to the participants of this conference, education officials and personnel, teachers, professors, and the management at all levels to integrate into the direction, duty and action plan so that we can continue implementing the work with better quality, more effectiveness and productivity to contribute to social growth and development.

Along with that, regarding the commitment to standardize writing, reading, word creations, and borrowing words from other languages, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, the Chairman of Khmer National Language Committee and Excellency Professor Prum Meol, Permanent Vice-Chairman of the Khmer National Language Committee, for their leading efforts in collecting words that are used in Khmer language together along with steady determination of the standardization of writing, reading and meaning of Khmer language. However, with respect to the conservation and progress of Khmer language and words, it would take a long time and require lots of resources including human and financial resources. In this spirit, in order to bring together public figure experts in Khmer language from all places and establish a permanent institution to be responsible for this vital work, I would like to support and encourage the creation of the National Khmer Language Council as soon as possible in order for this council to determine the standardization of the use of Khmer language and words, aiming to conserve and develop the use of Khmer language and words with continuity and sustainability.

Before ending, I would like to appeal once again to the management of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, education officials at all levels together with professors, teachers, and education personnel to continue their efforts for the implementation of duties with cares and high responsibility by having clear understanding of the future destiny of socio-economy, which is depending on the operation of education system with the involvement of Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, who are the management, government officials, education personnel, teachers, professors working in this education sector. In this regard, we need to always remember that people of the whole country have provided strong hope for the education service provision that can promote the capacity, knowledge and know-how, as well as upgrading the living standard, community development and national socio-economy in the future. In this sense, our education system needs to be in good shape, vigorous, and responsive to all aspects at present and in the future. At the same time, I would like to appeal to parents, custodians, communities, local authorities, national and international organizations, development partners and all donors to continue close cooperation, and support the education sector in order to continue the mission with success and prosperity.

Finally, together with the closing of the 2009-2010 Stocktaking of Education, Youth and Sports and 2010-2011 Direction Setting Conference now, I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Government Officials, Education Personnel, Professors and all Participants the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

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