It is expected that more and more teachers will teach their students about the history of Democratic Kampuchea, which was withdrawn from school curriculums in the early 1990s. Changes will be made. Recently, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the Documentation Center of Cambodia held its fourth workshop for history teachers across the country on how to use methodology to teach the DK history and other related topics such as genocide and mass atrocities in other countries, as well as international law.
The history of Khmer Rouge regime was taught generally in Cambodia in the 1980s, but it was not in the 1990s and today only some parts of it is being taught in schools. However, the study of history is important, as stated by Chea Cheat, the director of the Phnom Penh Education Department. He agrees that history has to be taught in schools. “Every citizen needs to know his/her history. History is very important,” said Chea Cheat.
The study of the Khmer Rouge history is not only to learn about past atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge, but it is also a tool to promote peace and reconciliation in the country. “Everyone has to know the bitter history of the Khmer Rouge regime. We learn history in order to reconcile each other,” added Chea Cheat.
Participants, who were history teachers, were excited with this workshop. They expect that their students will learn from the past and that students will be taught the reality of the Khmer Rouge regime. “I am pleased to attend this workshop. By learning about the Khmer Rouge regime, students will be able to avoid past mistakes,” said Sar Pauch, a history teacher.
Sun Saony, who was 13 when the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh and who participated in the workshop, never expected to see history brought to the classrooms again, but the opposite was true. “The Khmer Rouge cadres separated me from my family, ordered me to work very hard and starved me. I am happy that this history is taught in school,” said Saony. As a history teacher, Saony believes that young students will learn what their parents had gone through.
DC-Cam expected some changes after the workshop was completed. Teachers and students will change themselves from being quiet to becoming more engaged in discussions on the Khmer Rouge. As changes start to be applied, reconciliation will be established.
In the final exams, history has lower scores than other major classes such as maths and literature. This could discourage students from studying history, but Chea Chea, who used to teach maths and wrote several books on the subject, encouraged students to learn about history because it is important.