An settlement with China to incorporate necessary Mandarin language lessons in Cambodia’s public secondary faculties has Cambodian educators anxious about rising Chinese language affect that can undermine the dominion’s tradition and sovereignty.
On Wednesday, the 2 governments signed a memorandum of understanding in Phnom Penh to introduce the brand new topic to college students from seventh to twelfth grade, one among 18 agreements signed throughout a ceremony between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and visiting Chinese language Premier Li Keqiang.
In response to the transfer, lecturers and political observers say the Cambodian authorities ought to strengthen its nationwide tradition as an alternative, so residents won’t imitate international cultures, particularly that of China.
The brand new requirement would serve solely to extend Beijing’s affect in Cambodia, stated Rong Chhun, an adviser to the Cambodian Impartial Lecturers’ Affiliation and a member of the Cambodia Watchdog Council.
“It’s about political affect,” he stated. China “desires to mainstream its tradition in addition to political affect to dominate Cambodia as a result of there’s competitors within the area, and we all know that Cambodia is now in geopolitical competitors with the nice powers on this planet.”
In its place, Rong Chhun prompt that the Ministry of Training, Youth and Sport arrange separate language faculties in order that college students can select whether or not they need to examine Chinese language.
Presently, Cambodia gives English and French language instruction in its schooling curriculum all through the nation from grade 4 to 12. Korean lessons are supplied from grade seven to 9 in six excessive faculties.
Em Sovannara, a tutorial skilled in political science and worldwide relations, stated the inclusion of Mandarin within the state schooling curriculum is just like the Soviet period, when Cambodian college kids needed to study Russian and Vietnamese.
“If the Cambodian individuals don’t preserve their robust cultural id, they are going to be susceptible to the imitation of East Asian and Chinese language cultures,” he stated. “And so, it may possibly [lead] to the lack of our cultural stability if the Cambodian individuals have little understanding of our tradition.”
RFA couldn’t attain Ministry of Training spokesman Ros Sovacha or Cambodia authorities spokesman Phay Siphan for touch upon Thursday.
Nonetheless, Ros Sovacha instructed a home pro-government information outlet that the memorandum of understanding would enhance Cambodian-Chinese language ties. He additionally stated the ministry would conduct a pilot part, providing Chinese language language lessons in 20 excessive faculties in two or three provinces, whereas additionally increasing Korean language instruction to 6 excessive faculties in Phnom Penh.
Translated by Samean Yun for RFA Khmer. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.