Prime Minister Hun Sen will meet with the students who got an A grade on this year’s national high school diploma examinations on February 2 to serve as encouragement to those who studied hard and earned top marks.

The premier announced this while addressing a graduation ceremony for nearly 7,000 students from the Cambodian University for Specialties (CUS) in Phnom Penh on January 23.

“Some people said that when I went to inaugurate a school, I took the education minister’s work, but it was the education minister himself who invited me to do so. When I went to open a hospital, they said that I took the health minister’s work.

“Then I come to hand out these degrees and they say that I’m taking the education minister’s work again,” he said, adding that meeting with outstanding students as an encouragement is important.

Hun Sen said Cambodia must give priority to training human resources to meet national development needs, noting that the government is currently trying to develop human capital for the Industrial Revolution 4.0 and the new digital economy.

“We see there is an imbalance between the needs of development and our limited human resources. At this point it requires us to work in order to strengthen the quality of education and training to improve our human resources to respond to the development that is increasing day by day,” he said.

He added that Cambodia has made the right decision to allow the private sector to invest in education. The Kingdom, he recalled, first began to provide opportunities for the private sector to invest in education back in 1989 or 1990, which was even before the Paris Peace Accords.

He said the private sector investment has created a favourable situation for state universities in terms of tuition fees and higher salaries for lecturers and school administrators.

“If we do not give the opportunity to the private sector to contribute to training human resources and we didn’t give the opportunity to some of the state universities to charge tuition fees, then where would the more than 100,000 students who pass their high school diploma exams each year go?,” he said.

Pech Bolen, chief executive officer of Westline Education Group and president of the Federation of Education Services in Cambodia (FESC), said the participation of the private sector has improved the development of human resources in the country.

“It is an important thing because in other developed countries as well as developing nations, the public and private sectors are indispensable partners,” he said.

He added that usually in the development of any country, it is not possible to use only the state’s resources, especially in the education sector.

“If both local and foreign investors are interested in investing in the education sector, it will definitely contribute a lot to the development of human resources as well as the education system in Cambodia.

“Some good international schools have brought international curricula to combine with Cambodia’s integrated curriculum, which is complementary to the goal of promoting the development of our human resources,” he said.

According to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, during the high school exam period of December 5-6, there were a total of 90,950 students who passed. Among them, 1,049 earned an A; 7,232 students a B; 19,053 students a C; 31,166 a D; and 32,450 an E.

According to the ministry, there are currently nearly 15,000 public and private kindergartens and general education schools across the country.