A private university in Phnom Penh next month will start offering a two-year master’s program specifically designed for older civil servants who don’t have undergraduate degrees, the university rector announced Monday.
Chamroeun University of Poly-Technology will be targeting civil servants over the age of 35 who have 13 years or more experience in government, and will educate them in administration and political science, said rector Chea Chamroeun, who also advises the government on elections, higher education and NGOs.
“I request that older civil servants come and learn about politics and administration,” he said, pointing out that numerous officials had their education interrupted by Cambodia’s years of civil war. Civil servants will not need to attend class every day if they are busy, and will instead be able to conduct research for themselves outside classes, he said.
The university expects between 200 and 300 students to apply for the new program, which was approved by Prime Minister Hun Sen in November and is recognized by the Ministry of Education, Chamroeun said. Students will be paying a tuition of $890 per year, he said
Opposition lawmaker Keo Remy, who graduated from the university in 2003, welcomed the program.
“Most senior government officials’ knowledge is still limited,” he said, adding that many educated people were killed during the Khmer Rouge regime and that politicians cannot develop the country without academic training.
“When they get educated…they would know a lot about the law and would not dare violate it,” he said. “I urge the government’s senior leaders to spend some time [in school].”
Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said the program would bolster the quality of civil servants’ work.
But Mu Sochua, an opposition party member and former minister of women’s affairs, questioned whether older officials would bother studying and attending classes once they had enrolled.
“They should have a balance between older civil servants and new civil servants,” she added. “Young students should have a chance to serve the nation.”