Our vision in 2008
Our prior vision on the future was technological (see below), and we achieved in 2007 all the technological goals that we had planned back in 2004. Ou new vision is much wider. We now understand that what we are working for is the economical development of the country.
The UN Agency for Trade and Development streseed last year that there is no economic development without technology. We also know that widespread use of technology is only possible when it is in the local language, as we have seen in most developed countries.
Or new vision is for a country in which language will not be a barrier to access technology, development, or learning.
We see our Mission as ensuring that local language technology is available to as many people as possible, and that it is used for cultural, educational and economic growth. We develop it through the Ministry of Education (with the Open Schools Program and the Open Learning Program) and through the other ministries and civil society (directly with the KhmerOS project).
The KhmerOS project was born from our dream for the state of computer technology in Cambodia in three years. We envision, in 2007, a country where Cambodians can learn and use computers in their own language, a country that does not have to change to a new language in order to use computers! Databases and applications will be developed directly in Khmer, with easy, standard ways to handle names and data.
To achieve this, there must be widespread use of very low cost software, well adapted to Cambodia’s economy, business climate, and people. And there must be a standard way to use Khmer. We believe that in order to enter a digital world without forfeiting its culture, a country must do it by using software in its own language. Software in a foreign language exacerbates the digital divide, makes basic computer training difficult and expensive, closes computer-using jobs to people with little economic resources, impoverishes local culture, and blocks computer-based government processes, as the local language script cannot be used in databases. Fortunately, the introduction of the Khmer script in the Unicode standard has opened the door to start developing support for Khmer in different platforms. Also, there is already free, easy-to-use, high quality software -called Free Software or OpenSource Software- that can be used and modified. It includes everything a normal computer user needs: desktops, office applications (word-processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, database manager), Internet tools (e-mail, browser, chat, messengers), multimedia applications to handle music and video, and many utilities. Many countries are promoting this type of software for their government offices, for businesses, in education, and for the people in general. In the past, of course, computer use in Cambodia has been mostly in English, and mostly with unlicensed copies of Microsoft Windows products. The fact that there is a new Cambodian Intellectual Property Law means that a user will have to purchase a license for each copy of software sold by companies such as Microsoft that he uses. That is too expensive for most Cambodian computer users. OpenSource software and Khmer Unicode will build the best technological future for Cambodia, and it can be achieved. We welcome you to join us in working for this vision.