Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong officially inaugurated an Australian Centre for Education (ACE) main campus in Phnom Penh on Thursday as the institution marks 30 years of teaching English in Cambodia.
ACE set up operations in the Kingdom in 1992 and provided English language training to United Nations’ peacekeeping forces through UNTAC. This year it celebrates its 30th anniversary in Cambodia.
Wong, who is visiting Cambodia this week to attend the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM), said at the inauguration ceremony in Phnom Penh’s Chak Angre commune that ACE’s first center was opened by former Australian Prime Minister Paul John Keating.
In the last three decades, the center has delivered English training to more than half a million Cambodians.
“It's a wonderful demonstration of investment in people and investment in people-to-people links,” she said. Wong added that this year is also an auspicious time for Australia-Cambodia relations as it marks the 70th anniversary of diplomatic links.
Speaking at the ceremony, Cambodia’s Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Hang Chuon Naron, thanked Australia for its contribution towards Cambodia’s in sectors ranging from agriculture and education to the environment. He gave special appreciation for the Covid-19 vaccines.
ACE has made a significant contribution to English language training for students, educators and human resources in Cambodia, Naron said.
Wong said a priority at AMM is to engage with ASEAN and Southeast Asia, and it is in Australia’s interest to help shape regional strategies where countries can make their own sovereign choices.
“We want a region where no one country dominates, where sovereignty, sovereign decisions are respected,” Wong said.