Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday that he is concerned about the declining number of students who study the French language as most look toward English or Chinese for a better future.
The premier also confirmed that Australia would send about 800 students to Cambodia for internships and hundreds of other students to Asean member states.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony yesterday, the premier said that many Cambodians who spoke French were now old or deceased while not many young Cambodians could speak the language.
Mr Hun Sen said he went to France in 1982 and met with French parliamentarians and asked them to establish the Alliance Française, but his request was rejected.
He added that France opened its institute in Cambodia nearly a decade later. In 1990, the French Foreign Affairs Ministry opened the French Institute of Cambodia under the name Alliance Française.
According to the Education Ministry, the National Institute of Education is training about 2,000 teachers and master students on educational management in 2018.
Of this number, some of them are specialised in French-Cambodian literature, French math, French biology and French physics.
Education Ministry spokesman Ros Salin could not be reached for comment.
The premier yesterday added that Francophone countries always asked his government to urge students to study the French language.
“I also do my best to cooperate with Francophone countries, but we cannot force them [to study French],” he said, adding that the younger generation prefers to study either English or Chinese.
“So I do not know what the future of the French language [in Cambodia] is going to be,” he said, adding that there were two majors – health and law – in which many students studied French.
Mathilde Teruya, political and press counsellor of the French embassy in Cambodia, said that 125,000 Cambodian people were learning French and that the embassy was working with the Education Ministry to enhance and develop the French language in the Kingdom.
Ms Teruya said the French language remained widespread in some important fields in Cambodia such as heritage, legal affairs, health and tourism
“There is no doubt that the number of Cambodian people learning French is decreasing,” she said.