Statement

Remarks by Mr. Daniel Alemu, UNFPA Representative, a.i

28 July 2020

Remarks by Mr. Daniel Alemu

UNFPA Representative, a.i

During the Consultative Workshop on E-learning Platform in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

  • Excellency Prof. Eng Huot, Secretary of State, Ministry of Health,
  • Representative from Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, Ministry of Woman’s Affair, Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation, and Ministry of Telecommunication and Post
  • Colleagues from public and private sector, including training institutions, hospitals, health profession councils, and
  • Development partners, civil society, and private telecommunication companies;
  • Ladies and gentlemen!

 

A pleasant good morning! Arun Sou Sdey!

 

Today, I am honored to take part in this consultative workshop on innovative e-learning platforms in Cambodia. As you all know, the COVID19 pandemic has forced all of us to think creatively and innovatively of our business processes and work modalities and the education sector has certainly not been spared.

 

 

I am particularly pleased to be here to discuss this important topic with His Excellency Prof. Eng Huot, Secretary of State, Ministry of Health, representatives from relevant ministries, and colleagues from public and private sector, including training institutions, hospitals, health profession councils, development partners, civil society, and private telecommunication companies working in Cambodia.

 

Cambodia, as of 27 July 2020 has a total of 225 confirmed cases of COVID19 with no fatalities indicating a very effective management thus far of the COVID19 response under the leadership of Ministry of Health. In the education sector, it is worth noting that the sector has responded timely to the pandemic by launching the e-learning programmes to address students’ needs under the prevailing restrictions on schools. Other ministries and institutions have moved in the same direction. While in due time lessons will have to be imparted on how to improve further the epidemic preparedness and response both globally and nationally, Cambodia for now will have to continue striving to ensure continued effective response especially in the face of a potential second or third waves of the pandemic, innovative educational programmes and facilities, and further investing in prevention and awareness raising interventions. Of particular concern, is to ensure continuation of essential services, especially sexual reproductive and maternal health. 

 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

UNESCO has estimated in March that about half of all students worldwide — 850 million — are out of school because of the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many to recourse to less optimal ways of learning. The inadequate internet infrastructure, lack of capacities and resources to teach students virtually have exposed the widening digital divide between and within countries across the globe. Healthcare professionals have not been spared. With learning and skills and professional development mainly delivered through virtual learning and sessions, it becomes important when focusing on Cambodia to understand what tools, platforms and instruments exist and how they could be improved.

 

This workshop today therefore is very timely to help address this gap exposed by the COVID19 pandemic related to the access of students generally and healthcare professionals especially the lower cadres such as nurses and midwives to leaning and career development opportunities. The workshop will look at e-learning or digital learning beyond COVID-19 pandemic as a new innovative learning modality to be explored in Cambodia. 

 

Today’s workshop aims to bring all stakeholders both public and private to discuss and explore solutions centering around the necessity to ensure learning and skills development within the health sector are maintained. By ensuring that healthcare professionals gain the necessary knowledge to protect themselves from the pandemic, and limit its spread, we are guaranteeing that sufficient investment is being made to ensure the health system as a whole continue functioning optimally, including provision of essential services such as sexual and reproductive health information and services.

 

To achieve our goal, we will try to shed some light on some good practices and examples globally on innovative e-learning platforms, but more importantly welcome your views and experiences as key stakeholders from Cambodia and beyond in terms of what has worked and what could be introduced or improved in the Cambodian context.

 

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

 

As the pandemic and its socio-economic fallout continue to impact us all and the most vulnerable here in Cambodia and the world, we need to commit jointly government and partners alike to address these ongoing challenges and help bridge the digital divide. While COVID19 has posed numerous challenges, it has also provided opportunities and entry points for us to rethink and revisit service delivery, awareness raising and demand creation for services and strategies for continued and lifelong learning.

 

I, therefore, would also like to call on all relevant ministries, development partners, health profession councils, NGOs, training institutions, civil society, and private sector to extend their full support for this planning process to help us understand the peculiar challenges and opportunities facing Cambodia and Cambodia’s health professionals I accessing learning opportunities, and the nature and scope of a e-learning programme and platform that could help address these challenges. I am confident that with the strong commitment and coordinated efforts by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, and all relevant partners, we can achieve better sexual reproductive, maternal and newborn health outcomes for all Cambodians through an alternative e-learning platform.

 

In closing, on behalf of UNFPA, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Ministry of Health and relevant stakeholders for supporting this consultative workshop and understanding the pressing need to explore the development of a comprehensive, accessible and suitable digital e-learning platform for Cambodia’s health professionals.

 

We jointly reaffirm our commitment to the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport as we work towards the goal of ensuring that every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and that universal access to sexual reproductive health services becomes a reality for all.

 

Or Kun! Thank you!