Ministry Breaks Ground on New Tech Institute

The Ministry of Education on Monday broke ground on a new Institute of Technology campus in Kompong Speu province’s Thpong district that officials said is being built with funds from the Thai royal family on land partially donated by agribusiness magnate Ly Yong Phat.

Ministry spokesman Ros Salin said the aim of the 200-hectare technology institute was to accommodate the country’s increasing demand for technology-savvy workers and that it was made possible by funds donated by Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the third child of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

“The funds from the Thai princess will help Cambodia because she wants Cambodians to gain knowledge and have better access to technology,” Mr. Salin said, adding that he did not know the cost of the campus’ construction. “We don’t know how much yet, as we haven’t received the totals from the Thais.”

While a sub-decree signed in May by Prime Minister Hun Sen dictated that the school would offer bachelor and associate degrees in 11 departments including electronics, engineering and computer science, the Kompong Speu institute’s curriculum will be decided by the Thais, according to Mr. Salin.

“The program of training and study has already been organized by the Thais,” he said.

Mr. Salin added that the Institute of Technology campus, which is affiliated with the school of the same name in Phnom Penh, would also have dormitories for students—a rarity for Cambodian undergraduates, who usually rent their own accommodation or stay with relatives while studying.

Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said the campus would largely serve students from Kompong Speu and neighboring provinces, and would hopefully open within two years.

“It will have 1,500 students from Kandal, Kompong Chhnang and Kompong Speu, and they could possibly start studying in 2017,” he said.

Mr. Yong Phat, who controls vast sugarcane interests in Kompong Speu, said that his donation of a 50-hectare piece of land was only a minor contribution.

“With just 50 hectares of land, I have nothing to lose,” Mr. Yong Phat said. “And when those students have real technical skills, they can come work at my place.”

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