Cambodia is slated to fully integrate with Asean markets in 2015, but youth organizers said Sunday the country’s next generation is not prepared to take advantage of it.
Cambodia is preparing to host a youth summit for the regional body next year.
The Youth Resources Development Program brought together nearly 1,000 attendees, most of them students, on Sunday, to prepare for next year’s summit, but organizers said many Cambodians still have little understanding of the benefits of Asean, even as a younger generation will come of age under full Asean market inclusion.
All 10 of Asean’s members must prepare economically, culturally and through security cooperation to meet the 2015 integration, organizers said Sunday.
Sunday’s “Cambodian Youth Step to Asean” meeting was an effort to better integrate Cambodia’s next generation into Asean and prepare for a forum to be hosted by Cambodia next year.
“The problem is that Cambodia’s youth don’t see how Asean provides development for the country,” Chhieng Sokha, executive director of Youth Resources Development Program, told VOA Khmer.
Sok Samoeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said not only youths but rights organizations and others don’t yet fully understand how Asean integration might be used.
Cambodia youth can push for reform of Asean as an institution, he said, but they need to learn how to make use of it. And they must be prepared for job market competition, he said.
Soun Sareth, secretariat director for the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, agreed, saying the government and NGOs both need to do more to get youth involved in Asean.
Students like Eng Sokha, who studies international relations, say they want to know more and are preparing for competition within Asean, but they lack the resources.
“I think most of them, including myself, won’t know about this if they don’t do their own research and study,” she said.
Hak Seng Ly, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Education, said the government has an ongoing policy for the younger generation, but he did not elaborate on how that might help them integrate with Asean.