Arts University Hoping for Renewed Funds

Two faculties at the Royal University of Fine Arts will re­structure their administration and make other reforms in order to get renewed UN funding, a Min­is­try of Culture official said last week.

The UN Educational, Scien­tific and Cultural Organization “wants us to have a good educational system before they offer us funding,” said Prince Sisowath Panara Siri­vuth, an undersecretary of state in the ministry who oversees the university. “We will make a new administration system because we don’t want any corruption.”

Since the faculties of architecture and archaeology lost their funding from the Japanese government through Unesco in October, classes have mostly been canceled as teachers, whose salaries were previously paid by the UN, either don’t come to work or don’t fulfill their teaching responsibilities.

Unesco Country Represen­tative Etienne Clement on Mon­day confirmed that Japan, Cam­bo­dia and Unesco have been negotiating to renew the funding, and that Unesco has suggested reforms to the university.

“We have indeed made recommendations dealing with management issues, particularly at the highest levels of the faculties,” Clement said.

The reforms are not a condition of funding but an asset the Cambodian side brings to the negotiating table, he said.

A major hitch to the renewed funding is the vacant deanship at the architecture faculty. The position has been empty since May 2001, when student protests forced Sisowath Kolchat to resign.

Prince Panara Sirivuth said he is still working on finding a suitable dean. “We want a dean who is qualified and able, so it will take a long time,” he said.

Unesco has funded the salaries for eight years, but there have been interruptions before.

Funding was suspended for the entire 1994 academic year, for three months in 1998 and for a month after the dean left last year as Unesco, Japan and the government re-negotiated their annual contract.

Clement said the funding would definitely be renewed in time for the next academic year, but he hoped it would happen sooner.

Meanwhile, the faculties’ teachers, dissatisfied with the comparatively low state salaries they have received since the funding cut, will be sacked if they don’t do their jobs, Ministry of Culture Undersecretary of State Kim Sophat said. “If the teachers are not willing to teach, I will fire them,” he said.


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