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Report of the Mission at RUPP

12 November 2014 - 15 January 2015

Michel Jambu

The main goal of this mission was to teach the course of Topology in the Master program. A new generation, the fth's, was selected by the local PhD's teachers, Seam Ngonn and Sok Lin, in August 2014. On approximately 40 candidates, 22 were selected and only 16 attended the rst course taught by Maxime Zavidovique. Only 12 at- tended my rst lecture. The National Institute of Education (NIE) attracts many students who will nd a teacher position in high schools. The Master seems not too much attractive for at least two reasons, it requires a strong eort to succeed and the students will obtain a similar position of teacher with a very low salary. With a diploma of mathematics in Cambodia, they will only become teacher. I learned that one of the best student is a female who decided to give up the Master for NIE. I met her and she changed her mind. She got a nancial support from IMU to cover her local expenses, the Dean of the Faculty of Sciences waived thetuition fees and the department of mathematics oered her a position of \secretary". I prepared some lecture notes for the students and I gave them several versions during my course. One student was very active and he showed a real ability to do mathematics, the female started one week later but she worked hard and nally, she got good marks. Ten students attended all the lectures. All of them showed strong weakness about basic knowledge and I had to adapt my lectures, so several versions of my lecture notes. Sok Lin, who got his PhD in France, accepted to work with me in this course. Even if he could not be free all the time, due to a lot of activities, he was active, and his collaboration was important. This course was not intensive due to the fact I stayed more than 6 weeks. So, I gave homeworks and most of the students did them. I gave three partial exams and one oral exam, plus the nal exam. Three students failed.


I met the four students who received scholarships to go to CIMAT. One of them, Veasna Chum attended all my lectures.  Professor Emeritus, University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, France.
First, they had to get their visa from Mexican Embassy in Hanoi. They need some finnancial supports to cover their expenses, about 2500 USD for all of them. Fortunately, CIMPA agrees to give this support. Then, they booked flights and the cheapest  flight tickets have to make a stop over in US, and they had to get a transit visa to the US embassy. They have to apply, to pay 160USD, to wait several days and without any warranty of a positive result. So, with Brigitte Lucquin, we helped them to and another way to go to Mexico via Europe which was much more expensive. Finally, they left Cambodia on January 13, they are now in CIMAT and we hope everything will be one for them. Veng Sotheara was back from the Philippines and I met him several times because he worried about his scholarship. He was accepted by a Korean university for PhD studies.
Kev Da, the best student of the last generation of the Master, did not nd any support to complete the Master abroad. With the help of Michel Waldschmidt, he will go to ISER at Pune, to meet the professors in a first step and he should start to study in September. His travel expenses are paid by IMU/CDC and the local expenses by the institute. Kev Da attended all my lectures.
I also met Tann Chantara who got a scholarship from Ewha Womans University, Korea for a Master. She started her studies last September and, if her results are enough good, the scholarship will be extended for a PhD. She is happy and she had no diculty with the Korean system of education. PhD's and postdocs.
Seven Cambodian PhD's are back, four are teachers at RUPP, one is teacher at ITC, one is working at the Ministry of Economy, and one is jobless. It seems that it is not easy for RUPP to oer him a position because there are too many teachers at the department of mathematics. Notice that some retired teachers from the department continue to teach. The policy of RUPP should be to give a position to all PhD's holders, at least for the next several years. Mongolsery Lin applied for a postdoc at the university of Nice which is partner of the program EMMASIA. As he is not teacher at RUPP, he needs to get the agreement of the responsible of the program at RUPP. It seems that he got a positive answer. Sok Lin is looking for a postdoc, Seam Ngonn asked me to help him to contact some French mathematicians. Hun Kanal defended his thesis last December and he will have to think about a postdoc.
All these young PhD's must to teach many hours to get enough money, their salary are almost symbolic. So, they have to go abroad several month every year if possible, if not, they will loose a big part of their competence.
Seminar Hun Kanal decided to organize a \colloquium". Each foreign lecturer visiting RUPP could give a talk for students and teachers. I gave the rst talk on Saturday 10 January. The title was \Topology and Robotics". I gave some simple examples of linkages to show how topology is useful in enginiery. About 60 participants attended this talk. Pierre Arnoux gave the second talk on Saturday 17 January. It is an excellent initiative and we have to thank Hun Kanal. Computer Laboratory IMU/CDC provided 10 000 euros to buy computers for the department of mathematics.The purchase of the laptops could not be achieved last year. A room closed to the department of mathematics is equipped to receive the computers. The Master courses are delivered in this room. IMU/CDC asked me to serve as its agent in order to conclude the purchase of the materials before my departure on January 15. Due to the effciency of Lena Koch, we were almost able to do it, the 25 computers arrived at RUPP on 15. Excellence Program in Mathematics The goal of the project of mathematics in Cambodia was to train good students in order they are able to teach higher mathematics. This goal is partially reached and we have to propose some evolutions. First, I discussed with the PhD's teachers, nothing can be done without them. Then, with Seam Ngonn and Hun Kanal, we met the Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, Kamerane Meak who was in favor of our new project, and he proposed to organize a meeting with the Rector. So, on 12 January, we had a meeting with Pierre Arnoux, Seam Ngonn, Mongolsery Lin, Sok Lin, Hun Kanal and Mam Mareth. The rst version of the project was modied in order to avoid some misunderstandings. We met the Rector, Chet Chealy, in the morning of 14 January. We give him the last version of the project, cosigned with Brigitte Lucquin, Pierre Arnoux and Michel Waldschmidt. I summarized the project and the Rector agreed with it without asking any question on the academic aspects. However, he worried about the budget. I explained that we only require about 2 000 USD per year to pay the teaching hours given by PhD's . He told us that the private economic sector decided to support education in Cambodia. RUPP will receive some financial support and this project could obtain some funds even if the Dean mentioned that all the departments of RUPP will want a part of this modest help. So, we can continue to work and finalize this program, the document given to the Rector does not go into details.

E Network

ISP decided to organize and to support a network in mathematics with the university of Mandalay (Myanmar), the National University of Laos (NUOL) and RUPP. A meeting between the 3 partners and ISP was held in Vientiane early in January. Seam Ngonn and Sok Lin represented RUPP. We would like to know how the Master will be involved in this network. The most important point is to preserve the Master of RUPP. Another meeting will be held in RUPP in June 2015.


A group of 7 students of the Bachelor second year have organized a weekly workshop. They are supervised by Chan Roath and a British mathematician (using Skype). Chan Roath invited me to attend a working session. This initiative should be extended. One of the student seemed very bright, he asked many pertinent questions.
As every year, Chan Roath who is in charge of the Master at Kemarak University, invited me to give one or two talks to the students. The Master courses are given during the week-end because the students are teachers in the province schools.
The first talk was about the useful of mathematics in our day life. In Cambodia, with a diploma of mathematics, you become teacher. People confuse mathematics and addition, multiplication and some other formulas. But Cambodia is developing very fast, and the private sector needs scientists with a strong knowledge. It is the reason why some companies decided to support education. In my talk, I gave several examples and I introduced the SMF document \L'explosion des mathematiques".
Chan Roath asked me to give a second talk about complex analysis. Part of the talk was to look at chapters 5 and 6 of the DVD \Dimensions". Several participants asked me some interesting questions.


Up to now, seven Cambodian PhD's holders are back home and two more will return in Cambodia this year. It is the result of 10 years of collaboration and our involvement has to change. The Master has to become an international standard Master so that the best students can go to PhD studies without doing a Master abroad. To achieve this goal, we proposed the \Excellence Program of Mathematics" where PhD's have a primordial and active role. In particular, the Master will be the natural continuation of the Bachelor. I was happy to see a very friendly atmosphere between the PhD's, at RUPP, ITC. They are very active, they share the responsibilities, they take initiatives, even if their conditions are far to be good. I have to thank all of them, Seam Ngonn, Sok Lin, Hun Kanal, Mongolsery Lin, Ou Phi Chang, Meas Mon, for their cooperation, their participation to our meetings, with a special attention to Mam Mareth for his active and ecient contribution to solve all the logistic problems. We can be optimistic for the future but RUPP has to make its priority to recruit as teachers all the PhD's. It would be unacceptable that some PhD's cannot get a position at the department of mathematics. Due to their poor salaries, they need to teach many extra hours. It is important they obtain postdocs scholarships to preserve and extend their knowledge.
Finally, organizing a network gathering Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia is a very interesting initiative only if it involves all the partners and if the framework of this network is clearly dened.