High school students in Cambodia have an exciting opportunity to become digital citizens through the ground-breaking “Digital Talents” programme launched by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.

This reality show-style competition aims to foster digital creativity and problem-solving skills among Cambodian youth, offering them a unique chance to contribute to Cambodia’s digital revolution.

“Digital Talents will promote the growth of outstanding human resources in Cambodia. It will encourage students to explore the world of digital solutions, and they will receive training from experts in the field,” said Chea Vandeth, Minister of Post and Telecommunications, at the programme’s June 2 launch.

Initially launched in select cities including Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham, Siem Reap, Battambang, Kandal, and Takeo, the program will eventually be extended to students across the entire Kingdom.

Eligible participants, who must be in grades 10 to 12, are encouraged to apply between June 2 and 19. Spanning 14 weeks, the program is free of charge and promises valuable training from experts in the field, equipping students with new skills and knowledge.

Vandeth said that the program will enable participants to acquire new skills and knowledge, which will eventually contribute to the general public’s pool of knowledge, aligning with the government’s digital policy for 2022-2035.

To accomplish the government’s digital vision, he emphasised the importance of three key actors: the government, the business sector, and the public.

“The Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport will play a significant role in overseeing the entire education sector, although the telecommunications ministry will also contribute to technology education, which is an integral part of the ecosystem,” he says.

Digital Talents is set to premiere on the Facebook Page of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications on 23 July 2023.

The show introduces students to diverse digital skills, challenges them to showcase their knowledge and skills, and competes to see who is the most creative and can problem-solve week after week.

Chin Thomith, the executive producer of the show, described the program as an innovative initiative aimed at equipping high school students with essential digital skills and knowledge.

“The program consists of three stages: selection, auditions, and the battle zone,” said Thomith

“The battle zone, spanning seven episodes, will cover a range of digital topics, including robotics, data science, financial technology, AI, digital marketing and 3D printing,” he added,

Candidates who progress through each stage will compete in the semi-finals and finals, ultimately vying for the coveted title of Digital Talents.

The creation of the Digital Talents educational programme not only introduces Cambodians to new digital knowledge but also serves as a catalyst for exploring alternative approaches to acquiring digital skills.

San Vathana, education ministry secretary of state, emphasised the importance of nurturing digital talents beyond traditional classrooms and fostering continuous learning and improvement.

“In order to become a talented and knowledgeable individual, one must undergo three key stages. Firstly, it is crucial to preserve and nurture one’s natural talents. Secondly, there is a need to cultivate those talents through education and continuous learning,” he said.

“Lastly, individuals must refine and advance their talents through ongoing improvement and development,” he added.

The programme’s success relies on the expertise and guidance of its judges: Sivhuang Lay, managing director of Dichi Academy, Rosanich Sou, partner director for Httpool overseeing TikTok in Cambodia, Thomith Chin, founder and CEO of iDEN Agency, and Chamroeun Kuok, a corporate banker with a focus on youth initiatives.

“Candidates from across the country will undergo several qualifying stages, including selection and audition. Those who advance will receive seven weeks of comprehensive training,” explained the judges.

To ensure participation in the Digital Talents programme, students are provided with a clear schedule that effectively balances their general knowledge studies with digital training, without encroaching upon their regular study time.

“The winners will not only receive scholarships and opportunities for undergraduate studies at international universities but will also be recognised as Cambodia’s digital talents,” said the judges.

Vandeth highlighted the long-term vision of establishing digital technology centres in all 588 high schools across the country.

“If we achieve this, our future policy will be successful because the graduates will become digital citizens, and play major roles in the digital socio-economic framework,” he said.

He acknowledged that the Kingdom faces a shortage of technology professionals, particularly at a time when global trends are shifting towards the digital revolution. He noted that digital skills are not yet popular among Cambodian students.

“We are focusing on several crucial aspects to ensure that Cambodian talents possess both qualifications and competency,” he added.

He expressed his expectation that within the next 5 to 10 years, Cambodia will have sufficient human resources to advance the country in the field of digital technology.

The overall competition winner will receive a cash prize of $3,750 and a four-year scholarship to the American University of Phnom Penh. Second and third place winners will also receive four-year scholarships, as well as cash prizes of $2,500 and $1,250 respectively.

The remaining top 20 students will each be awarded a new computer and $500.