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Cambodia Moves Toward More Computer Education in Provinces

A Cambodian student uses Google's new Khmer online translation service between Khmer and French. Google Translate released Khmer as its 66th language on its online translation service around Cambodian new year, 2013. (Courtesy of Divon Lan)

Cambodia has done little to build an educational infrastructure for
information technology and computing, despite its widespread use in
the country. However, educators say IT education is improving across
the country.

Computer skills remain quite low for most Cambodians, and IT classes
are mainly taught at universities, rather than in lower grades.

That could change soon, however, as the Ministry of Education moves to
offer classes in rural high schools. New curriculum is being developed
for grades 11 and 12, though mainly in the provinces, Ros Salin, a
spokesman for the ministry says.

“In this new academic year, we have connected to some partners in
order to make computer labs for use by students in the provinces,” he
told VOA Khmer.

In another program, telecomm company Mobitel is working with the
ministry to create an online institution where high school students
can take part in exercises or download lessons online. It is being
tested at Sisowat High School.

Other computer programming lessons are offered at the primary school
level at private international schools, where the IT curriculum is
generally more robust.

Khieu Pit, vice principal for the Khmer education program at Zaman
International school, said his program teaches both the ministry’s
system and the international system, so that students understand the
essentials of technology for research and other studies.

For the most part, though, IT education is found mostly at colleges
and universities in the country.

That’s where students like Set Hattha, a freshman of Passerelles
Numeriques Cambodia, first learn it.

“I never knew what IT was until I got a scholarship to study IT,” she
told VOA Khmer. “I think that from time to time IT is much updated so
that both men and women should know it.”

After living and studying in Phnom Penh almost one year, Set Hattha
said she thinks most people use IT in their everyday lives, even if
the don’t realize it.

“People’s lives depend on technology,” she said. “Even studying,
because knowledge from a teacher is not enough; we have to do
research. If we don’t know technology, our study is not upgraded as

Dok Otdom, an IT teacher of Passerelles Numeriques Cambodia, said IT
has developed quickly in Cambodia over the last five years, through
phones and computers. “Now the technology system is much updated,” he

That means Cambodia should work hard to strengthen the IT sector.

Ros Salin agreed, saying Cambodia has not met the demands of Asean
integration, slated for 2015. In order to compete in the region,
Cambodians will need many skills, he said, including IT.