Anne Lemaistre, UNESCO Representative in Cambodia
Since she first stepped into Cambodia in 1993, Anne Lemaistre has been a privileged witness to the spectacular development of the Kingdom. The reconstruction of state institutions and many advances in education, culture and heritage protection (tangible and intangible), health, freedom of expression and environmental policy. Head of the Cambodia office for UNESCO-the UN agency for education, science, culture and communication which has been working in Cambodia since 1991, Ms Lemaistre has indeed been close to and a part of some of these improvements. The agency has accompanied the government on many great achievements: (the inscription of Angkor and Preah Vihear on the World Heritage of Humanity) the creation of the ICC-Angkor Ontemational Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of Angkor); recognition and preservation of the Reamker, the Chapei Dang Veng and the Tonie Sap “biosphere reserve”; large literacy campaigns; inscription of the Tuol Slang archives in the Memory of the World Register; and massive restitution of archaeological masterpieces to Cambodia.
None Left Behind
The lncheon Declaration, adopted in 2015, sets out a new vision and framework for action to strengthen education by 2030. The vision of UNESCO, shared by partners all over the world, is to transform lives through education, recognising its important role as a leading driver of development and in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the heart of the “17 goals to transform our world,” this new vision is fully captured by SDG 4, focusing on “Quality Education” that aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all. UNESCO also works with the Ministry of Education to develop teachers’ training and motivation through its Teachers Policy Action Plan.
Education, as Ms Lemaistre says, is a public good, a fundamental human right and a basis for guaranteeing the realisation of other rights. It is also essential for full employment, poverty eradication, peace, tolerance, human fulfilment, environmental protection and sustainable development. The Global Citizenship Education (GCED), part of SDG 4, aims to empower learners to assume active roles to face and resolve global challenges and to become proactive contributors to a more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive and secure world. With the Royal Government of Cambodia, multilateral and bilateral organisations, civil society and the private sector, UNESCO is committed to addressing all forms of exclusion and marginalisation, disparities and inequalities in access, participation and learning outcomes.
UN goals to transform our world
Learning for Life
UNESCO will continue its mandated role to lead and coordinate the Education 2030 agenda, Ms Lemaistre says, in particular by undertaking advocacy to sustain political commitment; facilitating policy dialogue, knowledge sharing and standard setting; monitoring progress toward the education targets; convening global, regional and national stakeholders to guide the implementation of the agenda.
The agency is also committed to promoting quality lifelong learning opportunities for all, in all settings and at all levels of education. This includes equitable and increased access to quality technical and vocational education, training and higher education and research. In addition, the provision of flexible learning pathways, as well as the recognition, validation and accreditation of the knowledge, skills and competences acquired through non formal and informal education, is important. Today, the 240 Community Learning Centres in Cambodia support, for example, UNESCO’s literacy campaigns. UNESCO also promotes the idea of an “education passport” where all training received could be recorded in one place. There are indeed many NGOs and private companies offering training that should be capitalised on. Finally, with regard to lifelong learning, a training curriculum is being developed for all young people who have left the school system, according to Ms Lemaistre. A holistic approach to training will continue being undertaken with the support of institutional partners such as UNICEF, Ms Lemaistre explains, targeting a broad scope of beneficiaries from preschool to higher education.
Anne Lemaistre signing a MoU to strengthen culture and arts education in Cambodia with Culture and Fine Arts Minister Phoeurng Sackona, Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron and Phloeun Prim, Executive Director at Cambodian Living Arts, in January.
“Considering the tragic history of the country, the expansion of higher education in Cambodia has been impressive, particularly the private provision of higher education. This rapid expansion has put extreme pressure on quality with issues such as the availability of qualified faculty members, investments in STEM subjects, research and the culture of quality-both internal quality assurance as well as external quality assessment and accreditation. To reap the benefits of ASEAN integration in coming years, Cambodia has to focus on significantly improving higher education quality for better qualified and skilled human capital.”
-Santosh Khatri, UNESCO Education Programme Specialist