CLOSING REMARKS OF DR TOSHU FUKAMI
CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBODIA,
AND CHAIRMAN AND FOUNDER OF THE INTERNATIONAL
FOUNDATION FOR ARTS AND CULTURE
AT THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON
“CAMBODIA’S HIGHER EDUCATION TODAY: ENHANCING QUALITY
AND BUILDING PARTNERSHIPS”
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBODIA
Excellency Pok Than, Secretary of State, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. As a Chancellor of the University of Cambodia, I am delighted to be here at the closing session of this very important National Conference on “Cambodia’s Higher Education Today: Enhancing Quality and Building Partnership.” I have been fully informed that the conference has gone extremely well for the past two days, and the participation of various stakeholders in higher education has been very high. I understand that many key issues related to higher education have been raised, discussed and examined closely.
2. I believe that the timing of this national conference has been significant and important, given the current debate of higher education in the country as well as the need to give greater priority and attention. This conference, in my view, has highlighted the significant importance of the need for greater reform and improvement in higher education in Cambodia, as this country is integrating itself into the region and the world at large. At the same time, as there is now a major proliferation of private universities and the changing role and character of public universities, and as the universities around the world are also changing, there is an urgent need for Cambodia to focus on improving quality education, quality assurance, and quality control in order to ensure qualitative human resource development in this country which can compete in a truly regional and global market labor.
3. I would like to share with you my view on what we should do together in order to continue to build on what Cambodia has in higher education:
4. First, improving the teachers’ training/educational skills. I believe that we need to continue upgrading the knowledge and skills of Cambodian teachers at the university level. They must have sufficient academic qualifications, teaching experience, as well as experience in research and publications.
5. Second, institutionalization of higher education. Higher education institutions including the Accreditation Committee of Cambodia (ACC) as well as the public and private universities will need to ensure that they continue to institutionalize their organizations over time. Institutionalization may include rules, regulations, directives, as well as structure and function to be based on the principle of fairness, participation and transparency.
6. Third, the imperative of working together. I think that it is vital for the universities in this country—both public and private—to collaborate with one another so that they can share experience, share the limited resources that they have, and to cooperate in areas that they can, rather than competing against each other. Yes, the Cambodian universities can compete with universities from overseas, of course if they can.
7. Third, the Cambodian students are expected to perform better, if they were to compete with regional and international students. I am sure that the Cambodian students are brilliant, intelligent and smart. If they want to compete with students from other countries, I feel that they can do it. However, I believe that it is important for the Cambodian students to receive their best education and training that they can get from the universities and other higher education institutions in Cambodia. They deserve it as they will have to compete more and more in the future in the regional and global market place, let alone in the Cambodian labor market.
8. Fourth, I believe that it is the role of the universities and the teachers to inspire the students to learn, to do research, and to quest for knowledge. Learning cannot be forced. Students need to be inspired by teachers and educators so that they have the desire and the will to learn by themselves because of their internal needs.
9. Fifth, one of the greatest assets of any society is their own population, especially their well-educated people. Cambodia, given its great loss of intelligentsia during the Khmer Rouge, needs to continue to build a strong intellectual community of educators, scholars and learners from every discipline in order to make the most contribution to the society.
10. Sixth, I personally feel that the future of Cambodia will largely depend on the education of the younger generation of Cambodians, the brain of this country, who will lead Cambodia’s tomorrow.
10. In closing, I would like to add that I am pleased that the International Foundation for Arts and Culture is able to work with the University of Cambodia on this important project on higher education, particularly in looking at ways and means to improve university education quality as well as to build partnerships among the universities in this country.
11. Finally, once again, let me thanks the University of Cambodia, H.E. Pok Than for giving a closing keynote address, and all of you for participating in this national conference.