Education Association Hits Back at Sam Rainsy

The Cambodian Higher Education Association released a statement on Saturday defending its members against claims made last week by CNRP President Sam Rainsy, who criticized the quality of Cambodia’s postsecondary education system.

The association—an independent body made up of more than 60 private schools—said that contrary to Mr. Rainsy’s assertion that most university degrees given out in Cambodia were “worthless,” those who received degrees from its member institutions enjoyed plenty of postgraduate opportunities.

“The Cambodian Higher Education System very much regrets and cannot accept the claims made by His Excellency Sam Rainsy, who criticized and insulted the Cambodian education system,” the statement said.

“Many students who graduated in Cambodia previously passed tests and received scholarships or paid money to continue their studies in other countries such as the U.S., France and England,” it said, adding that graduates were “fully capable of fulfilling their work.”

In a video posted to his Facebook page last week, Mr. Rainsy critiques the state of Cambodia’s higher education system during a ceremony at the CNRP’s headquarters to hand out certificates to students who participated in an I.T. program, saying that diplomas from Cambodia’s universities carried little weight. The video drew the ire of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who in a statement released Thursday called the opposition leader’s comments “a serious insult.”

Reached Monday, Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said Mr. Rainsy’s comments were only meant to disparage.

“The ministry has seen that he leveled an attack and not constructive criticism,” he said. “It was not right to say that, and the ministry does not accept his evaluation.”

“We accept that there are weak points and we are working to fix them,” he added.

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