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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

SimplyHelp Cambodia: A Vocational Education Mode of Success

By Lotte Goede, Donna Pulese-Murphy

Mom Phoeun, who lives in rural Cambodia, lost his father at a young age, and his mother is suffering from chronic illnesses. With cow herding being their only source of income, they could not make enough money to pay for her rising medical costs. Mom Phoeun sought relief by attending the SimplyHelp Tailoring School which had just established itself in his village. By learning a trade and distinguishing himself, Mom Phoeun is now not only able to support himself, but can also provide for the care that his mother desperately needs.

Cambodia is a country burdened with a legacy of conflict. The Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, seized power in 1975. An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died; most intellectuals and educated people were executed, and their cultural heritage destroyed. The devastation of the Pol Pot regime remains with the people of Cambodia, now one of the poorest countries in the world.

In 2001, the SimplyHelp Foundation decided to establish a branch in Cambodia. The Foundation’s two vocational training schools—a Tailoring School and a Computer School—have over 4,000 graduates, of which 85 per cent find jobs working for large companies, in banking, for non-governmental organizations or open up their own storefronts. Some go on to higher education.

Mobile Tailoring School—Sewing up Poverty Wounds

The SimplyHelp Tailoring School opened its doors officially in 2002. Many had the means to learn not only a trade but how to be self-sufficient. The school is mobile and goes to poor villages in the middle of rice fields where it is needed most. When a farming village is chosen as the school’s next destination, the village chief opens up his home and turns it into a temporary school. A highly-qualified master sewing teacher is sent from Phnom Penh to this village two or three days a week to train two assistant teachers who teach on the days she is not in the village. There are two classes per day, which allows the students to go to school either in the morning or afternoon, and to work their land the other part of the day. Students are trained for six months and classes are free. Since its inception, the school has moved eight times and, to date, has graduated 1,686 students.

The need for this type of education in rural Cambodia is staggering. In the village of Krang, for example, within three months after graduation, ten out of eighty graduates established small businesses in their living rooms with just a sewing machine and some fabric, and all of them have been able to earn good money. In other villages as well, graduates have opened tailoring shops which provide them with steady, reliable incomes—in sharp contrast to the difficulties that go along with being farmers. Some of these shops have developed into authentic-looking businesses with glass displays, beautiful clothes, and proud owners.

Tailoring School’s Social and Economic Impact

Former tailoring school graduates who have started their own businesses have taken on apprentices, thus passing on their knowledge. These apprentices pay the master tailor $150 and can stay with the tailor until they have mastered the essential skills. When asked why they choose to pay $150 to learn the trade when they can get paid to learn it at a government school, their answer is “quality!”

According to Vuthi Seng, Coordinator of SimplyHelp Cambodia, the social status of women changes after graduation. “Young Cambodian rural women traditionally have to stay home,” he says. “However, once a young lady graduates from the SimplyHelp Tailoring School in her village, which takes much less time than the two to three years required in a private school in the capital, she has a skill and can earn an income. She now has a more equal relationship with her husband; otherwise she is treated as a subject to her husband and has little decision-making power in the home.”

Additionally, not only does this heightened income affect a woman’s social status, but it affects a community at large. For instance, all students at the tailoring school are farmers and cow herders and have an average income of $1 to $2 per day. But graduates with their own businesses increase their average income from $3 to $7 per day. This extra income is not only used for basic needs, but is also re-invested in their own businesses and in their communities.

Computer School—Processing 
The Possibilities

The SimplyHelp Cambodia Computer School also opened in 2002 and is located in the capital Phnom Penh. Due to the high-quality training and low cost, 200 to 250 students apply for the 100 available training spots every three months. Typically, the students selected are from low-income households, orphans, or have a disability. During these classes they learn Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. From 2002 to 2009, the Computer School had 2,784 graduates.

The school’s teacher, Sophat Phoung, is a disabled young man from a rural area of Cambodia. Due to an accident in his early childhood, his right leg does not function anymore, which significantly reduced his job opportunities. So in 2002 he attended the computer school and worked as a volunteer after graduation. Due to his hard work and dedication, he was hired as a teacher in the school in 2003 and not only can he support himself now, but he can also provide income for his family.

Computer School’s Social and Economic Impact

There are signs that Cambodia is catching up with the rest of the information technology world as the Computer School has seen an increase in demand for more specialized computer training in QuickBooks, Photoshop, Access, and Peachtree.

A notable trend is that, although there are more male then female students, the number of female students has steadily increased over the years. Common jobs for graduates include data entry for companies or working at the cash register in supermarkets. It might not occur to people in the West that one needs to have basic computer skills to operate a cash register. Many others become business managers, administrators, or teachers, such as Ky Bun Heang, who became executive director for a Japanese NGO operating in Cambodia and specializing in the education field; Miss Chea Lida, who became a manager at one of the most successful Cambodian Banks; or Mr. Nuty, who became a provincial manager at the Department of National Treasury in Rattanank Kiri province.

SimplyHelp Cambodia is an educational model for economic and societal success, but certainly more work needs to be done. No matter how small or large, it is critical to support these kinds of vocational education endeavours which not only help individuals build a new life for themselves, but also help perpetuate a self-sustaining community.
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Economic dependence subjugates policy

In one short week over two long decades, Burma has returned to a window of potential political transition not seen since its last elections in 1990 were hijacked by the military.

From left: Burma’s Prime Minister Thein Sein, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, Laos’ Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh and Asean Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan link arms during the 5th Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam (CLMV) summit, at the Council of Ministers in Phnom Penh yesterday.

This time, the orchestrated polls on Nov 7 have overwhelmingly sent military-backed representatives of the Union Solidarity and Development Party to parliament.

On election day, renewed fighting between the Burmese army and ethnic minority groups flared up along the Thai-Burmese border.

Less than a week later, the iconic leader of Burma's opposition, Aung San Suu Kyi, was freed from house arrest where she had been confined for 15 of the last 21 years.

The implications from these momentous times in Burma are immense for Thailand, Southeast Asia and beyond.

The contrast between the responses to the election results from the West and Burma's near-abroad was conspicuous. China and India's comments were muted. Both Asian giants have vested interests in Burma's economic development, having courted and competed for the ruling generals in Naypyidaw for strategic assets and natural resources.

As Southeast Asia's main regional organisation, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations's receptive reaction was a foregone conclusion. The elections were the culmination of Asean's longstanding policy of "constructive engagement" and its now-proven rationale for accepting the generals' Burma back in 1997. Notwithstanding dissenting voices from Indonesia and the Philippines, Asean will now want to tick the electoral box on Burma's democratic checklist and move on.

As the country most directly affected by events in Burma, Thailand also revealed its hand well before the elections. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's initial reaction to the polls was to stick to the stated time-frame of the military-sponsored constitution of a three-month period before power is transferred to the elected government.

Although his predecessor and mentor, former prime minister Chuan Leekpai, made a point of not setting foot on Burma's soil in the late 1990s when the State Peace and Development Council was ensconced in power, Mr Abhisit not only visited Naypyidaw but came home with a multi-billion-dollar port development deal.

The Democrat Party-led government leader did not even visit Burma then, but his successor a decade later has now reversed course. Thailand's relative emphasis on human rights and democracy as its foreign policy underpinnings have gone out the window. But if pragmatism and material interests are to dictate Thailand's Burma policy, they should be rethought.

Thailand needs to come up with a longer-term energy outlook and a forward-looking immigration policy.

The port deal at Dawei (Tavoy) should be seen as part of a broader package of Thailand's growing energy dependence on Burma. More than 70% of Thai electricity generation derives from natural gas, and nearly half of that portion is imported from Burma's gas pipelines, with the rest made up of coal, hydro and petroleum sources. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are negligible. Nuclear power would be a viable alternative, as Vietnam's imminent construction of two nuclear power plants attests.

But for Thailand, nuclear power will need broad-based public discussions and hearings to promote trust and confidence and allay civil society concerns. Nuclear power is thus many years in the distance _ if it ever materialises.

Thailand, in short, is beset by energy insecurity. On a per-capita basis, Thailand's electricity consumption is in the range of the developed economies in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). And its foreseeable energy future is reliant on natural gas. Until it can tap into reserves in unexplored areas in the Gulf of Thailand, particularly the overlapping claims with Cambodia, Thailand's gas dependence on Burma will grow.

In turn, such dependence will constrain Thai foreign policy vis-a-vis Burma.

The fluid and precarious post-election interplay in Burma should prompt Thai leaders to start thinking about longer-term energy security.

Another serious challenge will be the demographics of economic growth. More than two million migrant workers from Burma are reportedly resident in Thailand, without corresponding rights to education and health care. Many of these migrant workers, now in their second generation, are unlikely to return to Burma even if peace and stability are restored.

A long-term comprehensive immigration policy, as opposed to the current ad hoc registration, could provide them with residency rights with access to proper education and health care. They now form the backbone of the back-breaking work in service industries, particularly construction, processed food and fisheries. If they continue to be excluded from the system and preyed on by Thai authorities for extortionist gains, they may become a source of social problems and crime in the years to come, owing to a lack of access to education and career mobility. The Thai economy can no longer thrive without these essential workers.

The more immediate demographic challenge will take place along the Thai-Burmese border.

Mr Abhisit's crass and myopic three-month reference for Burma's power transfer does not conduce to the logistical and humanitarian preparations that should be put in place.

The armed conflicts between the Burmese army and the ethnic minorities may well go on indefinitely. Largely unrepresented in parliament both at the national and regional levels following the polls, the major ethnic groups, such as the Karen and the Shan, are unwilling to lay down arms and be absorbed into the border guard forces controlled by the Burmese armies.

The growing spectre of civil war should lead Thai policy-makers and military commanders to start thinking about longer-term refugee sanctuaries along the border. It is not sustainable to receive the displaced ethnic refugees one day and repatriate them the next.

International relief agencies should be allowed and encouraged to share the burden. A longer-term refugee policy and accommodation, which has been a trademark in Thailand's foreign dealings in the past, should be formulated immediately.

The drugs production and trafficking associated with minority groups' war-financing will also need to be checked and deterred.

Burma after elections stands at a precipice. It could turn out well over a long transition, or very badly in relatively short order. The risks of continued military rule fronted by a bogus electoral regime on the one hand clashing with a pent-up and long-suffering opposition bent on going for "too much, too soon" will grow.

Thailand needs to be better prepared by providing safe havens along the border, relying less on Burma's natural gas and accommodating Burmese and Burmese minority workers who are contributing to the Thai economy for the long haul.

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Cambodian PM suggests setting up fund to advance CLV development triangle area

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen Tuesday suggested to establish a Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam (CLV) Fund to mobilize financial resources to fund the projects of the Master Plan 2010-2020.

The premier made the suggestion at the 6th Cambodia-Laos- Vietnam (CLV) Summit on Development Triangle Area (DTA) held on Tuesday morning in Phnom Penh, which is aimed to further strengthen the cooperation among three CLV countries.

With the financial difficulties, Hun Sen initiated to establish a CLV Fund in order to increase capitals for development projects.

He said that "Japan has financed 20 million U.S. dollars for the development triangle area, but we have to work with Japan and seek other development partners to mobilize capital for the triangle area."

In order to fulfill the programs and projects of the Master Plan, Hun Sen also suggested "to primarily shortlisting a number of prioritized projects from our cooperation sectors," such as infrastructure, trade and investment, social development and cultural conservation, agro-industry, tourism, and environment.

"The CLV Summit is not only to strengthen cooperation among the three countries, but also to contribute to the development in the region," said Hun Sen at the opening of the 6th CLV summit.

The summit is to review the progress of the triangle development area. Hun Sen highly evaluated the achievements that have been attained, especially in the sectors of trades and investments through fairs and trade conferences.

Two agreements were signed during the summit, including the amended memorandum of understanding towards the formulation of special preferential policies for the CLV development triangle area and the Phnom Penh Declaration on the Deepening Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam Development Triangle Area.

Meanwhile, a bilateral meeting was held between Prime Ministers Hun Sen and Laos' Prime Minsiter Bouasone Bouphavanh, and an agreement on air services between the two countries was signed.

At the half-day summit, Cham Prasidh, Cambodian minister of commerce and chairman of the Joint Coordinating Committee, briefly reported on the progress made in the areas of security, foreign affairs, and socio-economic development in the past two years.

CLV Development Triangle Area (CLV DTA) is aiming at accelerating of economic growth, poverty reduction, social and cultural progress in the areas of triangle.

Geographical provinces of the triangle area are Cambodia's Steng Treng, Rattanakiri, Mondulkiri and Kratie, Laos' Salavan, Sekong, Attapeu and Champasak, and Vietnam's Gialai, Daclac, Dacnong, Kontum, and Binh Phuoc.

Source: Xinhua
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Cambodia deal will eliminate visas for short-term travellers

By Marisa Chimprabha
Phnom Penh
Published on November 17, 2010

Thai and Cambodian residents will enjoy free across-border travel from next month after the two countries sign a visa-free agreement.

Thai and Cambodian Foreign Ministers Kasit Piromya and Hor Nam Hong will sign the agreement in the presence of their prime ministers, Abhisit Vejjajiva and Hun Sen, on Wednesday today.

The signing will take place during a meeting of the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (Acmecs) in Phnom Penh.

Acmecs is a cooperative network of Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam to optimise benefits of member countries’ diverse and complementary economic strengths, as part of the Asean Community.

The visa-free agreement, to be effective around December 18, will allow Thais to stay in Cambodia without a visa for 14 days and vice versa. Anyone wishing to stay longer than that must apply for a visa.

Under common practice, a tourist visa allows a visitor to stay for 30 days.

Kasit said the agreement was a starting point for cooperation under Acmecs’ single-visa scheme for its Five Countries, One Destination campaign.

He said the agreement would facilitate travel by people of both countries.

Asked to comment on whether human-smuggling activities and cross-border crimes would exploit the visa-free agreement, Kasit said the two countries’ crime-busting agencies would need to cooperate.

The first Acmecs Summit was held on November 12, 2003, in Bagan, Burma. The Bagan Declaration established the Acmecs framework and laid foundations for a plan of action covering five sectors of cooperation ��" trade and investment, agricultural and industrial cooperation, transport linkages, tourism cooperation, and human-resource development. Later at the Acmecs ministerial meeting in August 2005, public health was established as a sixth sector of cooperation.

Thailand hosted the second Acmecs Summit in Bangkok on November 3, 2005, to review progress on its implementation as well as set its future course. Acmecs leaders agreed on a declaration to forge even closer cooperation to meet the future needs of the subregion.

They also underscored the need for closer cooperation in dealing with trans-border diseases, especially bird flu, by signing the Declaration on Partnership in Combating Avian Influenza and Other Infectious Diseases. Thailand allocated US$2.5 million (now about Bt75 million) as a seed fund to support activities under the declaration.

In January 2007, the Acmecs leaders’ informal midterm-review meeting was held in Cebu, Philippines, as a sideline meeting to the Asean Summit, and leaders agreed to adopt the plan of action.

In 2008, the third Acmecs Summit was held in Vietnam, and issued a declaration to continue support on cooperation in trade and investment; agriculture; industry and energy; transport linkages; tourism; human-resources development; and public health, as well as expressing their support for environment cooperation.

On October 6, 2009, Thailand hosted the Acmecs senior officials’ meeting in Bangkok.
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Research and Markets: Cambodia - Telecoms, Mobile, Internet and Forecasts

Research and Markets ( : ) has announced the addition of the " Cambodia - Telecoms, Mobile, Internet and Forecasts : " report to their offering.

Hot competition in Cambodia's crowded mobile market as 10 operators chase subscribers

Cambodia has managed a remarkable transition in building a vibrant telecom market. Despite the country's status as one of the least developed nations in the world and whilst it remains one of the poorer countries in Southeast Asia, Cambodia's efforts to expand and upgrade its telecom infrastructure have certainly been bearing fruit. There was very little infrastructure remaining from before the tumultuous Khmer Rouge days. As a result, Cambodia bypassed rebuilding the fixed-line market and quickly launched into alternative technologies, jump-starting its telecommunications infrastructure with digital technology. Not surprisingly, mobile services have completely overwhelmed the market. By early 2010, there were ten mobile operators vigorously competing with each other in a market segment that was growing at a healthy rate. There were 5.6 million mobile subscribers (penetration 38%) in the country at the start of 2010. The market was still in a very strong expansion phase as evidenced by the keenness shown by foreign operators seeking to be part of it.

Some limited fixed-line growth had earlier come about through investment under foreign assistance, but this mainly benefited Phnom Penh and geographical coverage has not increased significantly since that effort in the 1990s. The number of fixed-line services has remained relatively static at around 50,000, but by 2009 the numbers were starting to edge upwards. In the absence of any substantial fixed-line growth, mobile telephone services continue to completely dominate the overall telecom market in Cambodia. In fact mobiles represent more than 99% of the total number of telephone services in the country.

It is worthwhile noting that wireless technology has been especially advantageous for Cambodia in achieving rapid network rollout and replacement of a fixed network badly damaged by 20 years of war. In addition to the thriving mobile networks, Wireless Local Loop (WLL) has been useful for rapid provision of a limited number of fixed-line services. However, while Cambodia has exemplified the fact that WLL offers a viable option for rapidly expanding telecom access in developing countries with low levels of fixed infrastructure, the potential of this technology has yet to be fully exploited in the country.

The expansion of Internet services has also been overshadowed by the mobile phenomenon. Internet take-up rates remained disturbingly low for many years, presenting one of the lowest penetrations in the region. Of course, the limited fixed-line infrastructure has been a major inhibiting factor in the roll-out of both dial-up and ADSL Internet services. The Internet market started to change in 2007 when wireless broadband services first began to appear in a serious manner. There has been a surge in the number of operators interested in this particular form of broadband and especially WiMAX. By early 2010 there had been a major upturn in Internet numbers on the back of the increased broadband penetration. Overall penetration remained low, however.

Market highlights.

- Cambodia's mobile market continued on its positive expansion path in 2009 and into 2010, although the annual growth slowed somewhat to 26% in 2009;
- With mobile penetration of around 40% by March 2010, the market had passed the six million subscriber milestone;
- Cambodia had ten licensed mobile operators in a crowded, highly competitive market that invited questions about its likely overcrowding and the possible need for some sort of early rationalisation;
- The development of fixed-line services continues to languish, although the market picked up a little momentum in 2009;
- The Internet segment has been languishing for some time, but there are promising signs that the widespread introduction of wireless broadband services will see a long-term surge in growth. - In 2009/10 there was evidence that this surge was starting. Internet subscriptions grew by more than 100% in 2009;
- Internet is a high priority for this emerging market with online access being crucial to national growth.

Key Topics Covered:

- Executive summary
- Key statistics
- Telecommunications market
- Regulatory environment
- Telecommunications infrastructure
- Internet market
- Mobile communications
- Cambodia's broadcasting market
- Forecasts

Companies Mentioned.

- Cambodia GSM (MobiTel)
- CamShin
- Hello Axiata (formerly TMIC)
- AZ Communications
- Viettel
- Applifone (Star Cell)
- CadComms
- GT-Tell
- Smart Mobile (Latelz)
- VimpelCom/Beeline Cambodia
For more information visit :

Research and MarketsLaura Wood, Senior ManagerU.S. Fax:

646-607-1907Fax (outside U.S.): +353-1-481-1716 : .
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