Economic and social development in the GMS is dependent on capable human resources that possess the knowledge and skills to recognize and address the challenges facing the region. In 2012, the Mekong Institute (MI) and the New Embassy, Bangkok, launched the Mekong Institute – New Zealand Ambassador's Scholarship (MINZAS) Program to help build a critical mass of human resources capable of meeting current and emerging regional issues.
The MINZAS scholarship program provides a four-phase structured learning program conducted over a one-year program-cycle for master's-level students from CLMT countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Thailand) undertaking research for thesis topics related to regional development. The scholarship offers recipients research funding, skills-development training and exposure to regional subject-matter experts and forums to help recipients develop their research, analytical and documentation skills.
From March 4 to 27, 2013, MI welcomed the second batch of MINZAS scholarship recipients to its headquarters in Khon Kaen for a training course on research methodology; the first of four program sections.
In total, twelve CLMT scholarship recipients attended the training course (three from Cambodia, three from Lao PDR, five from Myanmar, and one from Thailand), which included regional experts from Khon Kaen and Kasetsart Universities as primary resource persons.
During the training course, scholarship recipients underwent four modules emphasizing the development of academically sound research proposals and as well as new research techniques to assist in fieldwork research projects.
Mr. Kong Sopheak, 25, Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, reflected that, "The program helped to develop my research proposal immensely. Actually, before coming here [to the training] I had already developed my research proposal, but after undergoing the training modules and working with the resource people, it became clear that I needed to review this. I found the section on developing conceptual frameworks particularly useful. As a result, my research proposal is much stronger, and I am more confident that I can complete my research successfully."
Ms. Thuzar Linn, 31, Yezin Agricultural University, Myanmar, stated similarly that, "For me, the sessions on operational methodology and the development of conceptual frameworks were very important. I have now changed my research title and it is much more focused and refined than before."
The next stage of the MINZAS program will see recipients undertake research projects and data collection in their respective countries from April to July. During this time, they will receive technical support from both MI and university resource people before returning to Khon Kaen in August, for the 'MINZAS 2013 Roundtable Meeting,' ; the third MINZAS program component.
At the roundtable meeting, MINZAS scholars will present research findings to a distinguished panel of academics and regional subject-matter experts, who will make recommendations and assist the further development of the scholars' theses and presentation skills.
The MINZAS program is currently scheduled for three batches, 2012 – 2014, which will grant a total of 39 master's level students from CLMT countries a chance to participate in the program. For more information on the MINZAS program, please contact Mr. Seang Sopheak, MI Project Coordinator, at Tel: +66 (0) 4320 2411-2 Ext. 1013, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.