UNESCO in Cambodia is seeking support from Minister of Interior Sar Kheng for a digital project in the education sector.

The proposal was made during a meeting between UNESCO representative Sardar Umar Alam and Sar Kheng on October 25.

At the meeting, Umar Alam praised the government for its efforts to prevent Covid-19 through various means, including its nationwide vaccination drive, noting that the campaign has been fair and non-discriminatory. The UN official told the minister that he himself had already received his fifth dose.

He said that in the last two years, UNESCO has focused on literacy education at factories and the implementation of online basic education programmes as well as the fight against false information.

Umar Alam also detailed to Sar Kheng the free online education programme for people aged 14 and older run by UNESCO.

He further said that social media has changed the way people receive information, while at the same time creating a complex problem for users and the government.

“Social media also creates other impacts, such as cybercrime. UNESCO has provided training to the Cambodian police force on digital literacy and social media to combat misinformation and discriminatory information,” Umar Alam said.

He told Sar Kheng that UNESCO would like to request his ministry’s cooperation on the training of police officers in digital education.

“UNESCO plans to extend this programme for digital education into factories and prisons. We would like to request to meet with your officials to implement this project,” he said.

Sar Kheng thanked UNESCO for its support for Cambodia over many years and in many fields. He said the Kingdom and other countries are indeed facing many digital problems.

“In principle, the government encourages people to express their opinions, but at the same time we must prevent any opinions that harm society’s interests. This requires a clear distinction between false and truthful information,” the interior minister said.

He added that social media has also created opportunities by giving new avenues for criminals to commit cybercrimes such as fraud and online money laundering.

He said that in terms of digital outreach, he also has his own Facebook page that is open for citizens to file complaints, including technology-related crimes such as online fraud. However, he acknowledged that the capacity of Cambodian officials to solve these problems is still limited.

Sar Kheng expressed interest in the initiative outlined by the UNESCO representatives and promised to assign officials to cooperate with UNESCO.

Cambodia became a member of UNESCO in 1951, the year the organisation was founded, but cooperation was interrupted for a long time due to the country’s civil war. Since reopening its office in Cambodia in 1991, UNESCO has assisted the Kingdom in the fields of culture, education, information and communications, natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.