As part of the Azadi ki Amrit Mahostsav celebrations, H.E. Dr Devyani Khobragade, Ambassador of India to Cambodia, accompanied by a team of officials from the Embassy, visited the Cambodia Academy for Digital Technology (CADT) on 1st March 2022. At the CADT, as part of India’s commitment to promote IT skills in CLMV countries and also bridge the gap between academia and industry, India has established a Centre of Excellence for Software Development and Training (CESDT) at an approximate cost of Indian Rs. 100 million from ASEAN-India Cooperation Fund.
H.E. Dr Seng Sopheap, President of the Cambodian Academy of Digital Technology, all the three Directors looking after Education & Training, Research and Innovation Centres in the CADT and other senior officials extended a warm welcome to Ambassador and other officials of the Embassy. The tour to the CADT started with a visit to the CESDT, which was established by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), Government of India with the supply, installation and commissioning of all the equipment required for running the CESDT, including 60 computers, 11 laptops, 5 servers, 4 Projectors, scanners, printers, 4 digital classroom boards, TVs, Public Announcement System, etc., and course material for running various short term courses, etc.
In India’s efforts to make the CESDT self-sustainable in the short to medium term, 10 candidates (trainers) from Cambodia underwent intensive training in the advanced ICT Training Programme conducted by the Centre for Advanced Computing (CDAC) in Pune for a period of 6 months in India and also 47 students from CADT attended various Training Programmes for a period ranging from 3-6 months.
While some trainers are currently working with CADT, others are pursuing their PhD courses. Some of the students, who underwent training at CDAC’s facilities in India, are also working as Lecturers in CADT. Currently, with the course content developed by CDAC, online courses are being conducted by CDAC nominated officials with the assistance of CDAC-trained personnel. Once normal international travel is resumed, two dedicated trainers specially deputed from CDAC will manage the first 1 year of training activities along with the Cambodian trainers trained at CDAC in India and assist in centre coordination.
H.E. Dr Seng Sopheap and his team gave an overview of various activities of CADT in training, research and innovation and graduate, postgraduate and other short term training courses offered by the CESDT. Dr Sopheap profusely thanked the Government of India and CDAC for establishing such a Centre of Excellence, which is helping Cambodia in building capacity in developing soft skills, not only from the student’s point of view but also from the point of view of Government officials, who are provided IT related training in the Centre at the request of the Royal Government of Cambodia.
Dr Sopheap informed Ambassador that so far more than 500 Government officials undertook IT training at the Centre and many more training courses are being planned in response to the requests received from various Ministries Departments from the Royal Government of Cambodia. Currently, around 500 students pursue their degree and postgraduate degree courses every year in the Centre. For pursuing regular academic studies in the Academy, students have to take an extremely competitive entrance test. Currently, 40% of the students pursuing various academic courses are female and many of them are from rural areas.
Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador expressed her heartfelt appreciation to President Sopheap and his team in the CADT for facilitating her visit to see the excellent training facilities provided by the CESDT and also the research and innovation facilities offered by the CADT. She said that Cambodia remains an important interlocutor and a good partner in the ASEAN and India is fully committed to adding more substance to the friendship through our ‘Act East’ policy and various initiatives under India-ASEAN Cooperation Framework, India-CLMV Cooperation and Mekong-Ganga Cooperation.
India also looks forward to being a partner in Cambodia’s economic development, through the continuation of capacity-building efforts, financial support in terms of grants and concessional loans, etc. India offers 25 scholarships every year to Cambodian students for undergraduate, postgraduate and higher studies in various colleges universities in India. Ambassador requested CADT to disseminate information about various scholarships offered by the Government of India and encourage CADT’s students to avail these valuable opportunities, more especially in IT and other related fields, to study in India.
In this connection, Dr Khobragade also recalled Prime Minister Modi’s announcement during the 25th Anniversary Commemorative ASEAN Summit offering up to 1,000 PhD. Integrated Fellowships for ASEAN students in the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), which have produced world-class talent. She also conveyed that this fellowship programme is the single largest capacity development initiative of India in its partnership with ASEAN and requested CADT to encourage Cambodian students and others to avail the Fellowship facility in large numbers.
Ambassador Khobragade, inter alia, also drew attention to Line of Credit of USD 1 billion committed by India to promote projects that support physical and digital connectivity between India and ASEAN and conveyed that if there are any connectivity projects in the pipeline, Cambodia may like to draw funding from this LoC.
She conveyed that a Common Service Centre (e-Seva Kendras) project on a pilot basis in the Treating District of Takeo Province is under active consideration of the Government of India and if the pilot project is successful in serving the needs of the unserved and under-served rural population, Cambodia would be considering various digital connectivity projects in Cambodia with the LoC of USD 1 billion offered by the Government of India for connectivity projects in the ASEAN countries. She also touched upon another proposal that is under active consideration of the Government of India to depute an Adviser at a senior level to Cambodia to advise the Ministry of Telecommunications & Post on various technology and policy-related matters.
During her visit to CADT, a Certificate and Prize Distribution ceremony was also organised for 18 Cambodian students, who participated in the ASEAN-India Hackathon, a 36-hour non-stop Hackathon that was held online from 1-3 February 2021 in collaboration with the Ministry of Human Resource Development, All India Council for Technical Education and Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India and the respective countries’ line Ministries.
The ASEAN-India Hackathon was held in pursuance of the Prime Minister of India’s announcement at the 16th ASEAN-India Summit in Bangkok in 2019, to offer opportunities to youngsters in all 10 ASEAN countries and India to collaborate and work on new concepts to offer innovative and sustainable solutions for some of the daunting problems faced by our societies. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Hackathon, which was to be held in India in the physical format and could have provided more opportunities for all ASEAN and Indian participants to interact more closely, had to be held online.
The Hackathon saw enthusiastic participation from all the 10 ASEAN countries and India. It provided an opportunity to youngsters from India and all ASEAN countries to collaborate across borders to better understand the challenges faced by humanity and work towards finding solutions. Some of the areas included in the Hackathon were the blue economy, agriculture, tourism, healthcare and medical devices, environment, education, water, smart cities and start-up and entrepreneurship among others.
The Hackathon led to collaboration on projects enabling skilled individuals to develop cross country bonds and get acquainted with each other’s cultures, values and work ethics. It also provided an opportunity to develop advanced engineering skills, making the participants more employable and entrepreneurial and encouraging them to establish technology-based start-ups.
From Cambodia, 18 students participated in the ASEAN-India Hackathon and won total prize money of USD 4,050. While students from Malaysia, who participated more in number 29, won total prize money of USD 4,500, Cambodian students, though were less in number 18, won total prize money of USD 4,050 and placed second among the 10 ASEAN member countries after Malaysian students. Ambassador urged Cambodian students to participate in large numbers in any future events of this nature, which will bring laurels not only to Cambodia but also become a bridge between India and ASEAN countries in general and Cambodia in particular. CADT assured its full cooperation for participation from Cambodia in large numbers in any such events in future. Given the overwhelming interest in IT and IT-related courses offered in India, CADT has also requested the Government of India to consider offering more scholarships in IT and IT-related academic courses for Cambodian students to pursue in India.
Source: India in Cambodia (Embassy of India, Phnom Penh)