NIE International: Building Future Education Leaders

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Education in Cambodia is now in an exciting phase of change. It is driven by strong and passionate political will, demonstrated by His Excellency Minister Dr Hang Chuon Naron and his team of forward-looking Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS) senior leaders. In the long-term this change in the education sector will prepare the Cambodian workforce to meet the challenges of a very competitive world economy. Today, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) or Industry 4.0 will require youth to develop new 21st century skills and competencies which conservative and outdated education systems will not be able to handle. For nations like Cambodia and Singapore to enjoy sustainable economic growth in the twenty-first century, the quality of education would be a critical success factor. NIE International (NIEI), the business arm of Singapore’s National Institute of Education (NIE), is honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with MoEYS in this change process in several projects:

Brainstorm on STEM
Cambodian teachers working in groups to brainstorm on applying STEM to real world problems. Supplied

• In December 2018,
MoEYS and NIEI launched a two-month Professional Development Programme (PDP), an excellent initiative to develop Cambodia’s human capital in the education sector. It consisted of 200 hours of professional learning, sharing and participating in hands-on activities. The structured program allowed the 36 teacher trainers and education specialists to deep dive into the areas of their specializations, namely, school leadership, STEM education and curriculum and textbook development. They had the opportunity to interact and hear from some of our best NIE professors and retired Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE) senior colleagues. Indeed, the participants gained much of the best practices of Singapore’s education system. They understand why Singapore education is seen as one of the best in the world is because we ensure that it stays relevant and responsive to change and it thrives on consistent innovation.

• In June 2019, NIEI, together with Panhchak Research Institute Co. Ltd (PRI) as the National Consultants, was given the opportunity to carry out the ADB-loan “Upper Secondary Education Sector Development Project, USEESDP-CS-02” project. The scope of services entails a wide spectrum of work to be covered that requires specialized expertise for the different areas – in curriculum review, textbook development, improving preservice and inservice education, school management and strengthening the examination and assessment system. The project is on-going and is targeted to be completed by June 2020.

• The NIEI-MoEYS School Leadership Project is scheduled to commence in September 2019. It is largely funded by Temasek Foundation Inter-national. The key outcome of the program is to motivate and inspire Cambodia’s school leaders to adopt a new mindset towards leading their schools in the 21st Century.

The training program will (a) develop capabilities relating to leading schools in times of dynamic socio-economic change, as well as motivate and encourage school leaders to reflect and innovate on all aspects of school leadership and management; and (b) develop capabilities of school leaders on essential skills such as strategizing, envisioning and problem solving. Training will be conducted in Cambodia and Singapore.

• The second cohort of trainers under the MoEYS’ two-month Professional Development Programme is scheduled to commence in December 2019 at NIE Singapore. 40 trainers and specialists will acquire knowledge and skills in the inquiry-based approach in the teaching of Science and Social Sciences and conceptual-based curriculum teaching. These approaches are useful in developing critical thinking and global awareness. The acquisition of these teaching skills will enable the teacher trainers to transfer them to their trainee teachers.

Cambodian teachers at an engaging and mind-stimulating session on “Gaining Competitive Advantage: What it takes to be innovative”. Supplied

Collectively, these collaborative projects will augment MoEYS’ national agenda for systemic education change. Concurrent strategies and targeted programs are put in place for teacher training, school management, ICT in education, examination and assessment procedures and curriculum revision. At the same time, efforts were made to improve on the status of teachers and employment benefits.

School infrastructural and teaching resources are also being upgraded. The creation of the “New Generation Schools” (NGS) is a bold but an essential developmental strategy. The setting up two Teacher Education Colleges (TECs) in Phnom Penh and Battambang, offering a 4-year degree program (with a curriculum adapted from NIE Singapore Bachelor program), is a significant milestone.

Together with NIE-Cambodia, the TECs will train quality teachers. We look forward to many more years of fruitful collaboration.

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