Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, the Royal University of Phnom Penh graduates Batch 20 of the “Regular Program” and Batch 3 of the “Paid Program”. This is an important event and therefore I am very pleased to join you all, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, faculty members, staff, all the graduates and students at the 2003 Commencement Ceremony of the Royal University of Phnom Penh.
Let me express my appreciation to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, especially to the management, the Cambodian as well as the foreign professors, civil servants and staff of the Royal University who have demonstrated their commitment in fulfilling their respective roles in the transfer of knowledge to the students, our younger generation, amid the shortages in resources faced by the University. It is clear that your hard work has produced fruitful outcomes and results.
May I also express my happiness and appreciation to all the graduates who have worked very hard to overcome all the challenges faced during their long period of studies. You have finally and successfully graduated. This achievement is an appropriate and timely contribution to our country’s demand for the enhancement of human resources in order to achieve sustainable and equitable development.
On behalf of the Royal Government and the people of Cambodia, let me also thank the friendly governments and national and international organizations. You have made valuable financial and technical contributions for the development of education in Cambodia, especially in developing curricula and academic programs for higher education that are responsive to the needs of domestic and regional labor markets. Your assistance has helped strengthen our professional and vocational training which Cambodia needs the most in improving our country’s human resources to be of high quality, especially with intensifying globalization.
As H.E. Secretary of State Im Sothy has stated his report, the quality and effectiveness of the education system are crucial to the emergence of human resources of high capability and good quality. Indeed, this is the ultimate goal of the education – to produce high-quality citizens that effectively contribute to the protection, building and governing of their nation.
May I also express appreciation for all the efforts made by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in implementing key policies and measures such as the Education Strategic Plan (ESP) and the Education Sector Support Program (ESSP). These programs have expanded our training based on new technologies comparable to regional and international standards, thus making the training of human resource a viable basis for improved competitiveness of Cambodia in the region.
I reiterate that the Royal Government’s long-term development strategy is “to reduce poverty starting from a sound foundation for human resource development“. This strategy shall ensure sustainable development and the equitable distribution of the fruits of growth. To achieve this long-term objective, the Royal Government has given high priority to the reform and development of education, primarily through the strengthening of basic education in the context of comprehensive national development.
Moreover, we all are aware that if education is of poor quality, then all our efforts and resources would be wasted. Poor quality education harms not only the individual students, but also causes great loss to the nation in terms of its competitiveness in the globalized economic system. Indeed, we cannot achieve a better life or enhanced economy without a world-class labor force and education system.
Moreover, to ensure and enhance the quality of tertiary education, an official process and mechanism of accreditation is crucial. In this period of transition of the education sector, the role of civil society, especially the private sector is increasingly important in the provision of education. An accreditation process and system can ensure the proper assessment of the quality and standards of each academic institution. Such information is important so that families and students can choose their preferred schools and individual academic institutions and the Ministry of Education to monitor the sector, identify corrective measures and strategies, and learn from shortcomings and experience.
The Royal Government has been carrying out reforms in all sectors, especially in the development of human resources which is seen as key to improving productivity and competitiveness of Cambodia in the globalized economy. Indeed, the Royal Government considers the development of high quality human resources and the effective use of the country’s intellectual capital to be not only efforts to restore the human capacity lost through genocide and three decades of war. This is also the just and appropriate support for our people, for their dignity and employment, and consistent with our long-term vision for investment, competitiveness and sustainable development of Cambodia in the 21st century.
As I have mentioned many times, the 21st century shall be an era of globalization, where technological progress in all sectors is the key weapon for economic advantage in the market. The entry of Cambodia into WTO membership is an appropriate step for the engagement of the country in world affairs not only in trade but also in agriculture and industry which are the catalysts supporting the growth of trade.
In this context, Cambodian students and intellectuals face the great and daunting responsibility to use their expertise, knowledge, skills and creativity to innovate and upgrade the economy. Such advances are especially needed in agriculture, which is still dominated by fate and dependent on the weather. Cambodia must use technology toward modernization and transform the sector toward more advanced stages of agribusiness, agro-industry and agro-processing. Attention must also be focused on the development of a product, primary or processed, that shall serve as a unique, national “niche” commodity that enjoys absolute advantage in world market.
Moreover, the Royal Government has been considering various strategies of promoting industrialization to expand the economic base and thus gradually reduce our dependence on just a few products for export. We must produce a broader range of products and also add more value in such products as electronics and appliances. Such efforts all require well-trained and qualified engineers and workers. Thus to absorb our rapidly growing labor force, we must promote the development of agriculture, agro-industry, and create the foundation for modernization of industry, services and trade.
In all these contexts, the strengthening of the quality and the scope of education, especially for tertiary education is indeed crucial to formation of the production base and intellectual capital to enable Cambodia to respond to the requirements of development and rapid globalization. This is one of the utmost priorities of the Royal Government now and in the future. Indeed, tertiary education is the ground for development in all sectors. Thus the products of higher education shall be of quality which is innovative and with appropriate know-how that could carry out works productively.
It is the vision of the Royal Government of Cambodia that in this decade and mandate we shall focus on transforming our national economy to become an economy of advanced agro-industry and manufacture through development of crucial sectors such as physical infrastructure, management of irrigation systems, a foundation for agro-industry, technology development and knowledge transfer, learning from the experiences of advanced countries both in the region and in the world, and finally expand the market for Cambodian technicians and professionals through support and incentive schemes provided to investors within and outside the country.
In this spirit, I urge the Royal University of Phnom Penh to exert its best efforts to upgrade and maintain the high quality of its training. The Royal University should also expand into new areas required by technological and scientific progress. Moreover, I also encourage and appreciate the expansion of research and analysis on the concrete needs of our country, by cooperation with other research institutions of the government, civil society, private sector and that of the national and international organizations.
As Head of the Royal Government, I have always devoted all my mental and physical strengths and commitments to building the peace and security for Cambodia in this new decade. We have dedicated this decade as the decade of peace, which is the basis for growth and poverty reduction, prosperity and development for our whole society. I am pleased to see the positive outcomes from our efforts and that more and more Cambodian educated people are standing in support of the poverty reduction policy of the government, with high national spirit and strong determination.
I believe that all of today’s graduates are anxious to show their capacity and knowledge in national reconstruction. I would like to take this opportunity to stress that knowledge must be continually pursued, even beyond your four to five years of studies here at the Royal University. Success in career and life requires a lot more than the degree or knowledge you have learned here.
Experience is the main factor. Experience in life and experience in work are studies outside of the university in the real world. Experience is gained from actual action, from facing and resolving problems in concrete situations, on your own. This experience you will begin to accumulate as you enter your working life from this day forward, and for some of you I hope you have started already.
In addition to experience, personality determines success. Personality is the combination of what we receive by fate and the accumulation and strengthening of the special characteristics found in each person. Such personality is reflected in ideas, analysis, understanding, principles and actions on our beliefs and values and responsibility and accountability for our deeds. These values define our unique personalities. Indeed, knowledge, experience and personality are the three points of a triangle that provides mutual support and strengthening and cannot exist without the others.
In closing, I hope the 1,332 graduates who will receive their degrees today will become the labor force of “true knowledge”, helping contribute to the development of Cambodia and enable it to find an appropriate place in the region and the world. Again may I express my appreciation for the efforts of the Royal University of Phnom Penh. I urge all of you to continue your efforts to upgrade the quality of training and expansion of the academic programs. To all the graduates, good health and success in your future endeavors. Finally, I wish all of you, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the blessings of the five Buddhist gems.