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Ann Brooks awarded Fulbright to Cambodia

By Marc Speir
University News Service
September 19, 2007

Ann Brooks
Cambodia is a nation struggling with the pain of the past and the possibilities of the future. Ravaged by the governing Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s and stricken by poverty, the Southeast Asian country is finally entering a new era of hope.

Foreign aid and interest in Cambodia are on the rise, with renewed interest in helping an inexperienced, but stable regime realize its potential.

Among those interested in Cambodia is Ann Brooks, a professor in the adult, professional and community education program at Texas State University-San Marcos.

The adult education specialist was recently honored with a Fulbright Award to act as researcher and lecturer at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), located in the nation’s capital.

The Fulbright Award is a highly competitive international educational exchange program sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The Royal University of Phnom Penh provides all secondary school teacher training for the entire nation of Cambodia , a country that contains an enormous youth culture and requires the leadership and planning of educational administrators.

Brooks was first intrigued by Cambodia while working in Japan and in her following years as a teacher in China during the 1980s.

“The universities (in China ) were just beginning to function again after their destruction during the Cultural Revolution,” Brooks said. “From that experience I became interested in the post-conflict reconstruction of higher education.”

In a similar manner, Cambodia is rebuilding its higher education system after the prolonged conflict and disruption of the Khmer Rouge and its fall, causing numerous factions to battle for control of the country until an emerging Hun Sen government stabilized the nation in the late 1990s.

The exhaustive conflicts and persecution of educated individuals through the years caused a decline in educational resources. Compared to nations like Thailand , Vietnam and China , Cambodia has a long way to go in providing educational opportunities.

Cambodia is rebuilding,” Brooks said. “The nation currently has a shortage of faculty at all levels of their educational system.”

Brooks will research post-conflict reconstruction of higher education and review the current master’s of education curriculum at the Royal University of Phnom Penh in education administration, educational planning and management, and educational technology.

Through setting up an educational framework, Brooks plans to strengthen research opportunities for RUPP faculty and students and help prepare for a RUPP-University of Minnesota project in international education, leadership and administration.

She will also deliver a one-week training workshop on research methods to study action and evaluation research in education and work with RUPP faculty to design a research framework in education for student theses and faculty research for 2008-2010.

“I’ve also been asked to teach one or two courses in an area for which there is a shortage of in-country resources, as in curriculum (offerings) to master’s students,” Brooks said. “I’ll be able to coach the Cambodian faculty to handle the courses when I’m gone.”

Brooks will begin her fellowship at the Royal University of Phnom Penh next spring.