Friday, June 09, 2017

Service-Learning and Leadership Symposium

As part of the Cambodia Service-Learning and Leadership Summer School, we also organised a Service-Learning and Leadership Symposium.  In attendance were 100+ students and scores of teachers and administrators from Hong Kong, Cambodia, Israel and USA.  I believe it is the first conference on this topic in Cambodia.  I presented an overview of the Summer School, with the 2 subjects on leadership, 3 subjects on service-learning, 1 staff project and 1 student project. 

I also presented the 7 year build-up to the Summer School, which started in 2010 with a modest project with ~20 students, before service-learning was made credit-bearing and compulsory at our university.  Since then multiple subjects have been introduced, many teachers have become involved.  We have partnered with multiple institutions and NGOs.  The education reform in both Hong Kong and Cambodia have become factors.  Internationalisation is progressing rapidly.  We have indeed come a long way.  

The Secretory of State of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the Rector of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, an Associate Vice President of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University made speeches, in addition to many presentations by teachers and students.  

There were numerous questions and discussion on various aspects: funding, assessment, choosing sits and projects, finding enough projects, starting from scratch, …  Many people from different institutions expressed appreciation for various types of help and collaboration.  It feel great to know you are doing something that people appreciate.  

Cambodia is facing many challenges in its education system: low level of funding and poor pay, academic qualifications of the faculty need enhancement, tight coupling with the political system, rigid program structure, insufficient governance, …  There is, however, hope in that there is a number of relatively young academics with a broader world view who are working towards reform.  We will be glad if we can be of help.  

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