PHNOM PENH - Singapore and Cambodia signed two agreements on Monday (Jan 9) to boost cooperation in the fields of vocational education and healthcare.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen witnessed the signing of the memoranda of understanding on the second day of Dr Tan's state visit to Cambodia.
One agreement, between the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MLVT) and Singapore's ITE Education Services (ITEES), will help master trainers in Cambodia hone their skills in three areas: infocommunications technology, electronics, and automotive technology.
These areas were identified as key priorities "based on the current skilled manpower needs and vocational landscape in Cambodia", said Mr Tan Seng Hua, the chief executive officer of ITEES, an arm of the Institute of Technical Education that provides consultancy in vocational training and education.
The "training of trainers" programme will involve 80 Cambodian master trainers, who will receive a week of lessons in Phnom Penh, and two weeks in Singapore.
The lessons will be conducted by experienced lecturers from the Institute of Technical Education who are technical experts in the fields involved
Mr Tan said that in Cambodia, most of the teachers were recruited immediately after completing their university education.
"So in terms of their industry knowledge, in terms of their industry work experience and the latest technology, they need a little help," he said.
"If you really want to give them that exposure to the latest technology, you need the environment and facilities. That's why they come to Singapore, so they can see for themselves how this technology is being taught to the students themselves."
The total costs add up to about $805,320. Temasek Foundation International has provided a one-time training grant of up to $453,490 and Cambodia's MLVT will fund the rest.
There are 1,466 teachers under the Ministry, and the master trainers who go through the programme will, for a start, share what they learned with 240 of their fellow teachers.
The second agreement signed on Monday renews and expands a three-year collaboration between Singapore's Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh to work together on trauma care and resuscitation training.
Under the agreement signed in 2014, the two hospitals co-developed a programme to equip Cambodian healthcare workers with skills in these areas. The programme, supported by Temasek Foundation International with a grant of $290,630, and co-funded by Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Calmette Hospital, has since benefited 216 Cambodian doctors and nurses in total.
The new agreement will "bring this partnership to greater heights", said Dr Chua Wei Chong, consultant trauma surgeon in Tan Tock Seng Hospital's department of general surgery.
It will expand the programme to include areas like intensive care medicine, and healthcare leadership and development.
On Monday, Dr Tan started his day with a ceremonial welcome at the striking Royal Palace, with its Khmer-style roofs and ornate gilding.
He then had a royal audience with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni in the Throne Hall, before paying his respects at the monument of King Father Norodom Sihanouk, who died in 2012.
After a royal audience with Queen Mother Norodom Monineath, Dr Tan headed to the Peace Palace - the Prime Minister's office building - to meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen, before witnessing the signing of the agreements between Cambodia and Singapore.
At night, he will be back at the Royal Palace for a royal banquet hosted in his honour by King Sihamoni.