Exclusive Interview: Mr Peter Rider, New Zealand Charge d'Affaires a.i.

By I’mACE Team

The I’mACE Team had a chance to sit down with Mr Peter Rider, New Zealand Charge d'Affaires a.i. to Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. He had an opportunity to meet with our pre-departure program students before they depart to New Zealand. Below you will find our interview with him:

Q: How has the readjustment into your position as New Zealand Chargé d'Affaires been?

A: I was the ambassador to Thailand, Lao, and Cambodia from 2003 to 2006. Everybody asks me what it has been like coming back because in the Foreign Ministry you rarely have that opportunity, so I feel very privileged. The countries and cities have changed. Phnom Penh, while similar to what it was 12 years ago, has a lot more high-rise construction, development and infrastructure. Of course, the warmth of the people is the same.

Mr Peter Rider, New Zealand Charge d'Affaires a.i. making his opening remarks.

Q: Can you please speak about New Zealand’s engagement in Cambodia, specifically in regards to education?

A: When I came to Cambodia in 2005 with our Minister of Education, there was so much focus on private institutions. But in the past 12 years, the Cambodian government has put more funding into the public education system, which is important, because 60% of Cambodia’s population is under 30. You can see that education is the future for Cambodia. New Zealand’s engagement with Cambodia in terms of development is in two areas: one is in agriculture development around Siem Reap and the other big focus is on the scholarships and trainee programs for young people. So, on one hand, we try help some small-scale farmers get improved returns on their crops and, longer term and more broadly, we want to help improve education outcomes.

Q: IDP supports students to study abroad in New Zealand, as it is 1 of our 5 destinations. What do you feel New Zealand has to offer in terms of educational opportunities for Cambodians?

A: What New Zealand offers is a different and innovative education system compared to many others countries. If you look at some of the world rankings for the evolution of teaching, New Zealand and New Zealand schools and universities feature highly. We try to get schools abroad to embrace a more modern education system which has an emphasis on being highly digitized, as well as more one-on-one teaching methods which typically haven’t really taken root yet in Asia. In Asia, the learning much more about students listening and writing down what the teacher says, to replicate it in the exam, so we offer a more interactive education system.

We also offer a very safe environment, pastoral care is mandated by our government for homestay families, and so for lots of Asian parents, it is a safe as well as vibrant and multi-cultural society.

Mr Peter Rider, New Zealand Charge d'Affaires a.i., New Zealand Pre-Departure Training students and IDP staff pose for a photo together following his opening remarks.

Q: What advice do you have for students aspiring to study in New Zealand?

A: Build up your English here at a place like ACE so you have a level of confidence to start speaking. I think everybody who learns English as a foreign language offshore gets good at grammar and reading, but it is the confidence to speak that really counts. You have to push yourself in this environment, so when you hit the ground in New Zealand you are up and running. Also, take the time to read about the country, our background and the ethnic diversity.

I’mACE would like to thank Mr Peter Rider, New Zealand Charge d'Affaires a.i. for his time, insights and words of advice.

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