Academic journal article International Forum of Teaching and Studies

Western Music Education Development in Higher Education Institutions in the Kingdom of Cambodia

Academic journal article International Forum of Teaching and Studies

Western Music Education Development in Higher Education Institutions in the Kingdom of Cambodia

Article excerpt


After general elections were held in 1993, according to the Paris Treaty, the Cambodian government has given more priority to the development of education with efforts to promote non-formal education and private-sector education in rural provinces, following the examples of other liberal countries. The National Development Policy was focused on applying education as a process to reduce poverty in rural provinces and to enhance the national and international competitiveness of Cambodia in meeting global standards. Cambodia's "Education for All National Plan 2003-2015" (Royal Government of Cambodia, 2002) included three goals in the development of education: 1) all members of the public should receive equal education 2) elevate the quality of education; and 3) improve and strengthen the administration and planning of education. The policy defined three plans made up of short, medium, and long-term goals; all goals should be attained by 2015.

Goals for higher education include expansion of the quality of higher education to meet national goals, increase employment and market demands in Cambodia, strengthen and create a robust partnership between the public and private sectors, elevate the capability of various administrative mechanisms to analyze and organize policies in regards to education in a systematic process that will thoroughly elevate the quality of education among all members of the public and, especially, among human resource developers of education, including vocational teachers and administrators (Office of the Educational Council, 2006).

Cambodia currently has 34 public and 57 private universities (MoEYS, 2011). Each of the education centers focuses on various vocational and theoretical studies, but there are only two institutions that provide Western music education. The limited courses and institutions that provide Western music education is in stark contrast to the number of higher education institutions throughout the country. The two institutions that do provide Western music education have increased their efforts in the development of their Western music education so that Cambodian youths have knowledge, skills, and understanding of Western music provided by professional Cambodian and foreign music instructors and teachers. The goal of Western music education in Cambodia is also to create understanding and development of modern music education so that the progress of music education in Cambodia is equal to that of other cultured countries. Continuous development of Western music education has proven to be a challenge for Cambodia, which has been through many political and social changes throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. However, there have been many factors that have hindered and discredited Western music education, such as poverty, colonial rule, and internal political turmoil.

The Royal University of Fine Arts, Cambodia, is the first public university to offer Western music education since 1918 (Hauser-Schäublin, 2011). It has a history of an already existing Western music education program when the institution was known as the École des Arts Cambodgiens. It was officially renamed The Royal University of Fine Arts in 1956 and is considered among one of the oldest universities in Cambodia; it has been the only public university providing Western music education for many decades. It suspended activities when educational institutions were shut down by the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979, and many Cambodian intellectuals, scholars and academics were lost (Rany, 2012).

The lack of Western music education in Cambodia is the foremost reason behind the recently established Phnom Penh International Institute of the Arts (PPIIA), which was founded by a South Korean national, Chan Hae Lee. Lee, a music teacher with more than 35 years of experience at the Yonsei University in South Korea; he is currently working closely with national and international music professionals throughout the world to rebuild the music and arts education that was lost during the Khmer Rouge. …

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