As over one million Cambodians migrate to work abroad, Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Hang Chuon Naron said improvements in education is a priority for the Kingdom in order to stem migration and create jobs.
Chuon Naron was speaking at a workshop on the 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report in Phnom Penh on Wednesday.
The report on 2018 Results and 2019 Goals of the Ministry of Interior issued yesterday showed that 31,609 Cambodians – including 10,828 women and 2,914 children – have been deported from 18 countries because of working and living illegally.
Thailand deported 30,636 Cambodians, while 270 were deported from South Korea and 172 from Malaysia. China deported 156 Cambodians while 92 were deported from Japan. Vietnam deported 84.
Chuon Naron said migration needs to be solved at the root, and this meant the guarantee of security and peace in the country in order to create a favourable environment for more investment in human resource development.
New economics can be created with improvements in education at New Generation Schools or Model Schools, for example, so students can enter the field of technology. This was one way of solving the migration problem, he said.
“The problem has to be solved from the starting point and the education sector aims to address the migrant problem from here. Only strengthening the education sector can address other problems, especially migration,” he said.
Chuon Naron said some provinces had an education dropout rate of up to 23 per cent, while nationally it had declined to 18 per cent. He said migration mostly occurred in provinces located along the Cambodia-Thailand border, such as Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Oddar Meanchey.
“Our target is to reduce the dropout rate and offer enough information to students in choosing their life path. In short, teacher training is the backbone of our education system for addressing the migration problem and strengthening the education sector,” Chuon Naron said.
Pauline Tamesis, UN resident coordinator in Cambodia, said many Cambodians are moving from rural to urban areas and across borders in pursuit of education and employment opportunities.
She said literacy was one of the basic skills that would help people thrive in urban areas. But she said many venturing to the cities lack even these basic skills.
“Education is a key factor in tackling migration. The impact of migration is inter-generational. Children whose parents move abroad for work may benefit from [the money sent home], but their education and wellbeing often suffer as in Cambodia, children left behind, especially girls, are more likely to drop out of school,” she said.