The Asia Foundation will no longer fund Royal University’s six-month basic journalism course, said Pit Chamnan, Royal University’s rector. The course will be discontinued after the current session ends in September.
Pit Chamnan said last week the course’s cancellation should not affect professional journalism in Cambodia because the university still offers a four-year bachelor’s degree in the field and other institutions offer journalism training.
He also suggested that the program was superfluous, saying, “I already worry that there are not enough job opportunities for [journalism] students.”
Chhour Sokhkeang, a program officer with The Asia Foundation, said he wasn’t sure why his organization withdrew its funding. But he praised the course’s level of training. “Ninety percent of students got jobs after they have finished the course,” he said.
Jeff Hodson, a Royal University journalism instructor, said he was concerned that a lack of funding for the basic course could mean a decrease in the quality of Cambodian students entering his advanced journalism course.
Hodson’s course includes the top Cambodians from the basic course and puts them in the classroom with students from Laos, Burma and Vietnam.
Although there are other journalism programs in Cambodia, Hodson said the basic course was unique in that it took Cambodians who had already worked in journalism or with NGOs, giving them the opportunity to broaden their skills. Its other participants were students in their third year at Royal University.
Hodson said it was his understanding that The Asia Foundation canceled its funding for lack of donor support from abroad and would be dropping other projects in order to focus resources on next year’s scheduled national elections.
The Asia Foundation had funded the course for seven years, during which over 500 students had been graduated, Hodson said.