Cambodia’s higher education would do well to include more research and critical thinking demands on its professors, a university lecturer said Thursday.
“When [academics] do research, it is like they are exercising and it requires them to think critically, thus boosting the overall quality of their abilities and work,” said Peou Chivoin, a lecturer of media theory and research at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. “When people conduct research, they get to know social phenomena and try to determine problems that arise and come up with solutions.”
In much of Cambodian academics, the focus is on teaching, but not on research, he said.
Peou Chivoin is a Fulbright scholar and a PhD candidate of sociology at the University of Melbourne, Australia.
“At universities in developed countries like the US, Australia or Singapore, they have already turned primarily to research,” he said. “That means professors have their own research projects and try to publish their work, whereas Cambodian professors only teach.”
Not only are they not researching, he said, but Cambodian lecturers and professors work more than one job, thanks to pitifully low salaries. That creates a problem, because research would mean less time spent earning money.
Government subsidies could help, but no such support currently exists. A lucky few are able to take on research through the funding of grants or other outside help.
The problem is then passed on to the pupils, he said.
“When most professors do not do research themselves, it’s a problem when they lead their students to do research,” he said. “So there must be strengthened institutions to ensure more attention is paid to research.”