Saturday, 14 June 2008

Chinese language skills seen as gateway to better job in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, June 13 (Xinhua) -- While English remains the most popular foreign language among students in Cambodia, Chinese is fast catching up as young Khmers increasingly view it as a gateway to better jobs in the country's growing industrial and tourism sectors, according to the June 13-26 edition of the English-language bi-weekly the Phnom Penh Post.

The biggest Chinese school in Cambodia is the Duan Hoa Chinese School, which has two branches in Phnom Penh and over 7,000 students, the newspaper said.

The school has been open since 1992 and caters mainly to Chinese students, although some Cambodians and Vietnamese also study there, said administration manager Kim Hean.

"Often, students are trying to learn Chinese so they can join the families business or find work in a private company, especially working in factories or in the tourism industry as many Chinese investors are coming to Cambodia now," Kim Hean was quoted as saying.

China has emerged as one of Cambodia's largest investment partners, and is heavily involved not only in the garment sector, but construction and other industries.

"I learn Chinese because I saw how many Chinese companies and factories there are in Cambodia and I want to be able to work at these places," said Chea Sokbouy, who is now studying in Grade 11 at Duan Hoa.

Another Chinese language school, the Chhung Cheng Chinese School, is popular with Chinese-Khmer families, said the deputy director of the school, ChanTirin.

Of the 2,000 pupils at Chhung Cheng, most come from Chinese or Chinese-Khmer families who, while continuing to study in Cambodian state-run schools, realize the value in today's society of speaking two languages.

Tirin said that preserving the Chinese language in Cambodia was an important motivation for many students, but securing a high-paying job also remained a driving force for learning Chinese.

Besides, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen set to sign a sub-decree that will put the Chinese language on the national curriculum at university level, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education Chea Se said.

Editor: Wang Hongjiang

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