Back for Good
When you’re driven to make a vital contribution to Cambodia’s social and economic development, it helps to have an edge. That’s exactly what Ms Khun Sophea, a gender and development consultant, now feels she has thanks to an Australia Awards Scholarship which enabled her to complete a Master of Development Studies (Gender and Development) at the University of Melbourne.
Ms Khun was among the 53 recent Cambodian graduates being welcomed back to country from post-graduate study in Australian universities under the Australian Awards Scholarships program. In her address to guests at the welcome back event, Ms Khun emphasised the essential critical thinking skills she developed during her two years of study:
“The academic program of the University of Melbourne has enabled me to have a deeper knowledge in my area of expertise and has provided me with superior critical analysis and writing skills. These skills support me to think critically about current socioeconomic issues in Cambodia when I examine development approaches or tools that have been applied by the various development programmes in which I am involved and assisted me to produce quality reports that are critical to inform design and implementation of future projects.”
Since her return in June 2014 Ms Khun has been consulting on number of projects with several organisations including Dan Church Aid/Christian Aid in Cambodia, Oxfam Great Britain, Habitat for Humanity and International Women’s Development Agency.
Pictured: Ms Khun at the Australia Awards event.
The Australia Awards event was held on 11 February 2015 in Phnom Penh and attended by senior government officials, including the Australian Ambassador to Cambodia, HE Ms Alison Burrows, and guest of honour, HE Dr Say Samal, Minister of Environment, as well as representatives from civil society and the private sector, the scholarship recipients’ workplace supervisors and Australian Embassy staff.
An important component of Australia’s aid program to Cambodia, Australia Awards are currently the largest post-graduate fully-funded scholarship program offered in Cambodia. They give recipients the opportunity to gain an internationally recognised qualification that provides new knowledge, leadership skills and strong international links through the global alumni network.
Since 1994, over 650 Cambodians have been awarded scholarships and over 500 graduates have successfully returned to Cambodia with post-graduate qualifications. Around 130 awardees are currently studying in Australia and 44 are presently undertaking pre-departure training and will commence study by January 2016.
The evening also launched the intake for the 2016 round of scholarships. Priority areas of study for this round include agriculture, health, infrastructure, trade, courses that support the reduction of violence against women and education management. Women, people from the provinces and those with a disability or working in the sector are strongly encouraged to apply.
Australia Awards recipients will be supported with a comprehensive program of English language and study skills preparation for up to one year prior to their departure to Australia and with reintegration workshops on their return to Cambodia. The deadline for the applications this year is 30 April 2015.
More information can be found at www.australiaawardscambodia.org