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Education ministry, JICA keen on promoting STEM education

The importance of STEM education in Cambodia was underlined in a meeting between JICA and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports last week in Phnom Penh.

Om Romny, Secretary of State for the Ministry received the JICA delegation led by Vice Chief Representative of JICA Agency in Cambodia Miura Yuriko on May 30.

The courtesy meeting dwelt upon the long-term cooperation between the two countries in the area of technical education. The two sides pledged to constantly strive to improve relations and cooperation through the implementation of a variety of technical cooperation projects in the Kingdom. In particular Information and Communication Technology (ICT) cooperation projects would be given high priority.

The Secretary addressed the meeting detailing the progress made in the sector of education. He said the progress development of the STEM Education Program in high schools, strengthening the abilities of the teachers of STEM, promotion of ICT education in high schools and continuation of strengthening of educational databases were impressive.

Developing a workforce skilled in STEM is essential for structural transformation and sustainable economic growth in Cambodia, said Daiju Aiba, JICA Expert, National Bank of Cambodia to Khmer Times.

The country needs to transition from light manufacturing to heavy manufacturing industries, which requires an increase in skilled workers in STEM fields. Moreover, STEM education equips students with the skills needed to compete in the global job market, making Cambodia more attractive for foreign investments.

Speaking about the ties between the two countries, Daiju said that Japan has provided significant technical and financial assistance to Cambodia, including constructing teacher education colleges to improve teacher quality and providing assistance to the Institute de Technologie du Cambodge to enhance higher education in STEM. Given Japan’s expertise in ICT education, there is potential for collaboration to introduce and expand ICT education in Cambodia.

The biggest challenges in the education sector are equity and quality. Introducing ICT could improve access to quality education regardless of location or socio-economic status. Additionally, like many other developing countries, Cambodia faces low overall quality in higher education and limited budget allocation for universities.

Further collaboration with Japan could help improve the quality and equity of education in Cambodia. ICT education is one area where Cambodia can significantly benefit from Japanese expertise.

However, from Daiju’s perspective, there is a need for more focused assistance on higher education. Enhanced support in this area could improve the quality of STEM education (including social science) and contribute to economic growth.

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