The Prek Leap National Institute of Agriculture plans to send 200 more students to study and do internships in agriculture for one year in Israel by year’s end. The expansion of the programme comes after encouragement from the Israelis, who praised the hard work and good study habits of Cambodian students.
Insititute director Thun Vathana told The Post that doing an internship in Israel will help Cambodian students increase their knowledge and practical experience, while also allowing them to familiarise themselves with the cutting-edge modern technology used in Israel.
“Internships are about learning by doing. Students go there with our centre partners and they work for various companies as interns who then sponsor the costs of their trip,” he said.
Another purpose for sending students to Israel is to improve their English language skills, because English is an important language for both science and business. Although Israel’s official language is Hebrew, the interns will communicate with their hosts in English because of its status as the world’s primary second language and only students with good English proficiency levels are selected, according to Vathana.
The skills that students will learn for this internship are mostly in the fields of farming, animal husbandry and milk processing. Students who are studying in their second year, third year and sometimes their fourth year are selected for the internships. After returning, they will have to continue their studies to complete their school year.
“According to our statistics, about 30 per cent of our graduating students went to work with our government during the last recruitment and about 20 per cent work in NGOs, while 40 per cent go to work in private companies. About 10 per cent are self-employed doing things like running farms, raising bees or growing vegetables.
The internship programme is coordinated by the Sedot Negev Agricultural Training Centre of Israel, which became a partner of the Prek Leap institute in 2018.
“Previously, they allowed fewer students at once, about 100 people. But this year, especially because our previous students were studying and working hard, they increased the number of students we could send by double,” he said.
Sedot Negev is supported by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its purpose is to foster cultural exchanges with friendly countries and to assist with the transfer of technology to poorer countries, including Cambodia.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon said: “ I would like to congratulate and show my appreciation for the 70 students who returned to Cambodia after being trained in Israel successfully for one year,” he said.
He noted that all students receive health insurance during their stay in Israel and that the Sedot Negev Center arranged for Covid-19 vaccinations for all of the students. Israel – like Cambodia – has a higher rate of vaccination than much of the rest of the world.