Academic executives from 10 higher education institutions in Cambodia convened at the Kampot Diamond Hotel, Kampot province, to participate in the Leadership Excellence in Academe Program (LEAP) of the Philippines-based Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
According to a SEARCA's press release AKP received yesterday, the 40 participating academic administrators are from the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA), University of Battambang (UBB), University of Heng Samrin Thbong Khmum (UHST), Meanchey University (MCU), Svay Rieng University (SRU), University of Kratie (UKT), Chea Sim University of Kamchay Mear (CSUK), Prek Leap National College of Agriculture (PNCA), Kampong Cham National School of Agriculture (KNSA), and Bright Hope Institute (BHI). There are also four participants from the Directorate of Higher Education of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS).
Jointly organized by SEARCA, MoEYS Directorate of Higher Education, and RUA, the five-day learning event, also called "LEAP Cambodia," opened last Feb. 29, it pointed out.
Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit Jr., SEARCA Director, said the program focuses on needs specific to the country to develop and nurture academic leaders, who are apprised of current challenges and opportunities in the context of the country, the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), and Southeast Asia as a whole, and the corresponding leadership and management strategies applicable to their respective institutions.
"We hope that your discussions and reflections throughout these five days will lead you to outdo your own past performance and offer agricultural education with its allied sciences to turn out promising leaders and practitioners in agricultural and rural development in Cambodia," H.E. Dr. Touch Visalsok, Under Secretary of State, MoEYS, said as he opened the leadership program.
Concerned that agricultural growth in Cambodia might stagnate when yield does not improve even if agricultural inputs are increased because maximum yield has been reached and soil fertility has decreased, H.E. Dr. Touch Visalsok stressed the country's need for highly qualified human resources in agriculture.
He said LEAP Cambodia is a significant event because in order for Cambodian universities to produce good human resources, they must first develop good leaders of higher education institutions in agriculture.
Dr. Nith Bunlay, MoEYS Deputy-Director General for Higher Education, also urged the participating academic executives to actively engage in the leadership forum and take the initiative to work with MoEYS to increase the enrolment in agriculture courses in their universities. Noting the contribution of the agriculture sector to Cambodia's gross domestic product, he reiterated the need to empower and retool human resources in agriculture in the country.
LEAP Cambodia is the first in-country offering of LEAP Southeast Asia (SEA), one of SEARCA's staple course offerings for executives and leaders. LEAP SEA traces its roots to the Advanced Higher Education Administrator Development (AHEAD) course that SEARCA offered from 1993 to 2003.
Founded 50 years ago, SEARCA strengthens institutional capacities toward inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development (ISARD) in Southeast Asia through graduate education and institutional development, research and development, and knowledge management.