Minister of Education, Youth and Sports Hang Chuon Naron urged public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) to continue investing in infrastructure, including libraries, experimentation equipment and research facilities, noting that the number of HEIs in the Kingdom remains low compared to neighboring countries.
The call was made during the fourth national research forum on “Promoting Research and Innovation for Socio-economic Development”, held in Phnom Penh on October 20. The forum brought together university rectors and researchers.
It was designed to serve as a network for policy makers, researchers, students, entrepreneurs and members of the public to discuss ideas and share knowledge in order to promote research and innovation in Cambodia.
Chairing the forum, Chuon Naron said educational research plays an important role at all levels, from kindergarten to higher education.
“Countries that spend a lot on research and development improve the quality of their education and orient their economies faster,” he added.
He said the ministry is currently in talks with the World Bank to develop projects that would improve the quality and capacity of HEIs. These new projects would be a good investment in the educational structure. He also urged the public and private sectors to invest in this sector.
“In terms of infrastructure development, compared to neighboring countries, it remains limited. Libraries, experimental equipment and laboratories all need to be improved,” he said.
He said research in HEIs should be linked to economic development, so Cambodia’s development goals should be considered.
“For example, the agricultural sector lacks businesses linked to higher education institutions. We believe this forum is a starting point to think about where Cambodia’s economic development should go and how we can direct research and training,” he added.
He commended the Ministry’s Scientific Research Department for organizing the forum, which linked this work to Cambodia’s socio-economic development. The forum focused on research direction and research priorities in HEIs, allowing each institution to define its own priorities and specialties.
Seng Bun Thoeun, vice-rector of the National Management University (NUM), said the ministry had encouraged NUM to establish three more faculties and put them into operation for years.
“In response to the minister’s suggestion, students can view library books in person and online. We have extensive physical infrastructure,” he said.
Mak Ngoy, director general of higher education at the ministry, said the forum was designed to provide Cambodian researchers with the opportunity to disseminate their findings and target future projects.
He said the research will be crucial for socio-economic development and will play an important role in helping the country achieve its vision of becoming an upper-middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050.
“To promote research in higher education, we need to invest more in human resources, physical infrastructure and research programs,” he said.
The ministry provided research funds to public and private HEIs through two projects – one which ran from 2011 to 2017 and the other which is currently ongoing. The last project started in 2018 and will end in 2024.