Aiming to bridge the gap between rural grade 12 students and higher education, 16 students from Paragon International University have assumed the role of ‘Academic Ambassadors” for the academic year 2022-2023.

They are set to visit assigned secondary schools in two provinces, aiming to guide and inspire mentees in choosing their academic paths wisely.

“The decision on a major is paramount in shaping future careers, especially for students in provinces where information is scant,” said the Ambassadors.

Their initiative, “Meet Me, Meet My Major,” targets students from Kampong Speu and Kampot provinces, where knowledge of available majors and universities is limited. It is an effort to offer comprehensive guidance to these young scholars.

The initiative consists of a series of components. The first being a session in which tips and experiences from the Bac II baccalaureate examination are shared, offering insights into the challenges and opportunities of university life.

Subsequent orientation sessions focus on aiding students in selecting an academic major. Each student, divided into groups by their preferred major, will receive guidance from senior students in the corresponding fields.

“Our choice of these provinces for the project is informed by their high rural populations, which typically have limited resources to explore university majors and careers,” said Kao Satya, an ambassador.

In aiding the students’ decision-making, they will be provided with brochures containing essential information about majors and universities. There will also be guest speakers from different universities, providing valuable guidance and sharing experiences.

The student ambassadors strongly believe in the importance of choosing the correct major for a successful and enjoyable journey in higher education.

By participating in the “Meet Me, Meet My Major” project, sponsors can help meet the needs of these high school students, thereby making a positive impact on the community.

Also contributing to the cause is Sok Leap, the creator of the Sala App, which provides vital information about universities, scholarships, and subject studies.

“Reflecting on my personal experience, one needs to begin by looking within. Understanding one’s strengths helps set realistic goals,” Leap emphasised.

“Support from loved ones is vital in making career choices. Sala is a platform that helps identify these elements and provides support to both students and their families in making the right choices”.

Leap’s mobile phone application incorporates assessments and individual interactions to help students understand their strengths and set realistic goals. It also has a private chat feature for referrals and aids in finding suitable subjects and universities.

Leap explained, “Students often struggle with making a selection. Therefore, we offer a personality test via the app to help them understand themselves better. Upon completion, they gain some insight into their problem-solving abilities and the types of jobs that might suit them”.

Leap underscored the importance of clear goals when selecting a study path and asserted that Sala App could simplify the selection process for students.

The Sala App also includes a personality test based on a well-recognised framework, helping students understand themselves better and explore suitable career paths.

“Without a clear goal, choosing a study path can be difficult. The Sala App can provide advice, making it easy to select the best option,” he added.

According to Ros Soveacha, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, the choice of a study field and skills acquisition for higher education is a personal and family decision that should align with individual interests and job market demands.

“Lifelong learning is influenced by personal considerations and should rest on four key points: understanding the profession, dedication, assessment of personal and family resources, and awareness of labour market demands,” he told The Post.

The aim is to heighten awareness about the importance of choosing specialised subjects for further study and contributing to socio-economic development.

The Ministry comprises three specialised departments: Higher Education, Vocational Orientation, and Youth, with contributions from the Youth Council of Cambodia. They conduct regular campaigns to educate grade 12 students on vocational orientation.

Both natural and social factors influence the quality of education, with active participation of learners and stakeholders being paramount.

“The ministry is committed to improving education quality through various initiatives and fostering positive cooperation with ministries, institutions, development partners, the private sector, and all stakeholders,” said Soveacha.

Crucially, the family unit plays an instrumental role in bolstering academic pursuits and decision-making regarding further study.

Soveacha highlighted the importance of individuals being aware of their needs and priorities and the necessity of active participation in improving the quality of education.

“Understanding our own needs and priorities in life is essential,” he added.

With the support of Paragon University students, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Sala App, and various institutes, grade 12 students in rural areas now have access to vital information and guidance, helping them make informed decisions about their future studies.

Through these combined efforts, young individuals can confidently embark on their academic journeys and chart the course for successful careers.