Cambodian Education Forum in 2021: Key achievements and future plans

Kimkong Heng
Cambodian Education Forum
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

This article aims to highlight the achievements and future plans of the Cambodian Education Forum (CEF). Founded on July 1, 2020, CEF is now 1.5 years old. Its vision is “to provide a publication platform for Cambodian researchers, educators, teachers, students, and administrators, especially novice and emerging writers, to publish their written work or research findings on education-related topics relevant to Cambodia and beyond” (CEF, 2021, para. 1).

CEF has the following aims:

  • To provide a publication platform for Cambodian researchers, educators, and students
  • To share knowledge, research findings, and informed opinions about education in Cambodia
  • To support Cambodian novice writers to publish through quality peer review, mentorship, and editorial processes
  • To publish essays, opinion pieces, and research articles about education in Cambodia and beyond
  • To offer insights from education experts through interviews, discussion, and publication
  • To share education-related resources to students, teachers, academics, and researchers
  • To promote Cambodia’s image in the regional and international arena (CEF, 2021, para. 4)

Key achievements

By the end of 2020, the CEF team consisted of three co-editors, one associate editor, and four guest editors, and it was supported by approximately 20 reviewers (CEF Editorial Team, 2020). Since its inception, CEF has quickly expanded. The CEF editorial team now comprises 39 editorial board members, including “seven editors, two associate editors, six guest editors, 20 registered reviewers, and four junior reviewers” (Heng, 2021a, p. 1). Four new associate editors have recently been recruited to join the editorial board, increasing the total number of members to 43 in January 2022.

Over the past 18 months, CEF has published around 60 articles, three edited books, and two issues of its newly established journal, the Cambodian Journal of Educational Research (CJER), launched in September 2021. CJER demonstrates CEF’s ambition to contribute to building a research culture in Cambodia, especially in the field of education. The journal will be published two times per year, in June and December (see Heng, 2021b for an editorial note for the launching of CJER). CEF is also preparing an edited book that will be published in early 2022.

In addition to providing a publication platform, CEF also offers a series of six-month internship programs. Thus far, CEF has successfully completed two rounds of its internship program. The program aims to provide “training and mentorship on academic writing to promote an understanding of the publication process, including peer review and the use of in-text citations and referencing” (Heng, 2021a, p. 2). A total of 30 interns have participated in CEF’s internship programs and 20 of them have written 19 articles and 15 book chapters. All except one of these outputs have been compiled into three edited books, two of which (i.e., Heng et al., 2021; Sol et al., 2021) were published and available for free download on CEF’s website.

As noted in Heng (2021a), through its publication efforts and internship programs, CEF has contributed to fostering a supportive environment for research in Cambodia. It has particularly encouraged research and academic writing activities among young and/or novice Cambodian writers, including undergraduate students, recent graduates, and masters and doctoral students.

Heng and Sol (2021) also noted that the establishment of CJER by the Cambodian Education Forum and the launching of other local journals represented “new developments in the research landscape in Cambodia” (p. 9) and marked “an important milestone for research development” (p. 11) in the country. However, they argued that, despite the recent progress and new developments that offered new hope for research in Cambodia, many challenges remained, requiring efforts and attention from all concerned stakeholders, including the Cambodian government, development partners, the private sector, higher education institutions, and academics.

Overall, CEF has made some achievements of which its editorial board, particularly the editors, can be proud. Nonetheless, as discussed by CEF Editorial Team (2020) and Heng et al. (2020), there are many challenges, including time constraints and heavy administrative and editorial workloads. In spite of the challenges, the CEF team is committed to contributing to the development of research and publication in Cambodia and providing support to novice Cambodian writers to help them build their confidence and interest in research and publication.

Future plans

CEF plans to continue to publish short and medium-length articles; however, the focus will be on the publication of CJER. This means that medium-length and full-length articles will be prioritized, and the frequency of the publication will follow CJER’s publication schedule (i.e., two issues per year).

CEF will also continue to offer the internship program; however, the internship will probably be offered once a year to allow sufficient time for preparation, training, editing, and publication of interns’ written work. There is also a plan to support prospective interns through a mentorship program in which each intern is paired with a mentor who will help with mentoring and writing to produce co-authored articles or book chapters. As currently practiced, the chapters will be compiled and published as edited books.

CEF also plans to seek funding and donations to sustain its operations to continue providing support and publication platforms to Cambodian writers and researchers, particularly novice ones. Thus far, the cost of website hosting and domain registration relies on the CEF core team’s pocket money, which puts additional pressure on the team in addition to the heavy administrative and editorial work. Therefore, we will welcome support in any form, whether academic or financial.

Conclusion

No doubt, all stakeholders need to work together to make a difference to the research landscape in Cambodia. When all actors are committed to the same vision, that is, to promote research in Cambodia, a healthy culture of research will develop, providing new hope for Cambodia’s development, innovation system, and competitiveness in the knowledge-based society.

The role of CEF is to encourage research and publication activities. It aims to support young and emerging Cambodian writers and researchers. In particular, it provides a publication platform that is very much needed in Cambodia where academic publication outlets have just emerged in recent years (see Heng & Sol, 2021). It is believed that CEF’s efforts will translate into positive attitudes toward research and publication among different stakeholders, particularly among young people who are the future of Cambodia.

Finally, as active stakeholder collaboration is key to promoting research in Cambodia (Heng, 2020), it is essential that concerned stakeholders put in extra effort to encourage research and peer-reviewed publications. CEF has made some strides in encouraging research activities. If more research-promoting activities and initiatives are in place, a flourishing research culture in Cambodia will take shape, and the country will be in a good position to realize its ambition to become a knowledge-based society.

References

CEF. (2021, November 30). About CEF. https://cefcambodia.com/about/

CEF Editorial Team. (2020). Cambodian Education Forum in 2020: Achievements, challenges, and way forward. Cambodian Education Forum. https://cefcambodia.com/2020/12/31/cambodian-education-forum-in-2020-achievements-challenges-and-way-forward/

Heng, K. (2020). Stakeholder collaboration: The key to promoting academic research in Cambodia. Cambodia Development Center. https://cd-center.org/wpcontent/uploads/2020/11/P124_20201116_V2IS20_EN.pdf

Heng, K. (2021a). The Cambodian Education Forum’s contribution to building a research culture in Cambodia. Cambodian Journal of Educational Research, 1(2), 1-5. https://cefcambodia.com/2021/12/30/the-cambodian-education-forumcontribution-to-building-a-researchculture-in-cambodia/

Heng, K. (2021b). The launching of the Cambodian Journal of Educational Research. Cambodian Journal of Educational Research, 1(1), 1-2. https://cefcambodia.com/2021/09/13/the-launching-of-the-cambodian-journal-of-educational-research/

Heng, K., Kaing, S., Kao, D., Muong, M., Doeur, B., & Lor, T. (Eds.). (2021). Online learning during COVID-19 and key issues in education. Cambodian Education Forum. https://cefcambodia.com/books/

Heng, K., & Sol, K. (2021). Academic research in Cambodia: Progress, challenges, and ways forward. Cambodian Journal of Educational Research1(2), 6-23. https://cefcambodia.com/2021/12/30/academic-research-in-cambodia-progress-challenges-and-ways-forward/

Heng, K., Sol, K., Kaing, S., & Ros, V. (2020). Conclusion: Key challenges in working with novice Cambodian writers and researchers. In K. Heng, S. Kaing, V. Ros, & K. Sol (Eds.), English language teaching, education, and online learning in Cambodia during COVID-19: Perspectives from practitioners and researchers (pp. 125-131). Cambodian Education Forum. https://cefcambodia.com/books/

Sol, K., Heng, K., Kaing, S., & Ros, V. (Eds.). (2021). Cambodian youth’s perspectives and reflections on contemporary educational issues and the role of education. Cambodian Education Forum. https://cefcambodia.com/books/

The author

Kimkong Heng is currently an Australia Awards scholar pursuing a PhD in the School of Education at the University of Queensland, Australia. He is a co-founder and chief editor of the Cambodian Education Forum and the Cambodian Journal of Educational Research. He is also a visiting senior research fellow at the Cambodia Development Center. His research interests include TESOL, research engagement, and academic publishing.
Email: kimkongheng@gmail.com

Acknowledgments

The author would like to thank Mr. Koemhong Sol, the editor of the Cambodian Education Forum, for his helpful comments and editorial support.

Cambodian Education Forum (CEF)  

Website: www.cefcambodia.com
Email: cef.correspondence@gmail.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CEF.Cambodia
Twitter: www.twitter.com/CEFCambodia     

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