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First KR textbook launched

090521_04.jpg
090521_04.jpg

Students at schools across the country are to receive copies of Cambodia's first textbook on the Khmer Rouge regime in a drive to boost youth awareness.

Photo by:
GEORGIA WILKINS

Children read copies of a new Khmer Rouge history textbook distributed by DC-CAM and expected to be used in classrooms throughout the Kingdom by September.   

THE Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam) on Wednesday began distributing a Khmer Rouge history textbook to over a thousand high schools and primary schools across the country.

Students at Hun Sen Ang Snuol High School were the first recipients of the book, which is the first textbook on the Khmer Rouge period to reach students.

"The purpose of distributing these books is to make students understand their history," Youk Chhang, director of DC-Cam, told students.  

"This understanding will help fix the damage of their parents' hearts and the loss felt during the regime," he added.

The textbook will be introduced into the school curriculum following distribution of a teacher's guide on how best to engage students on the subject.

Until now, only four copies of A History of Democratic Kampuchea (1975-1979), by DC-Cam researcher Khamboly Dy, had been distributed to each of the country's more than 1,300 high schools.

However, additional funding from the German government this year allowed for more copies of the book to be printed, and roughly 175,000 will now be made available to students in 24 provinces.

"We want the students to know that the Khmer Rouge regime really did happen. Some students do not believe that this regime existed because it sounds so cruel, so from now on they will understand the true history of Cambodia," said Hang Chhum, director of Ang Snuol High School.

Grades 9 to 12 to be taught

Ton Sa Im, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, said that the book would be introduced to grade 9 to 12 students at the start of the next school year in September.

"There is no other regime like [the Democratic Kampuchea regime] in the world," he said.

"Studying this book will mean that students will not want to take revenge on people because they will understand society and how it affects the life of other human beings."

Clint Williamson, the US ambassador at large for war crimes who is currently in Cambodia, presented the book to each of the school's students.

"If we look at the pictures of the prisoners and guards [at S-21], many of them are the same age as you are today," he told the school.

"Many people want to forget this period, but they must not forget what happened in Cambodia," he said.

Ath Sokia, 18, a student at Ang Snuol High School, said that she had never learned about the history of the Khmer Rouge in school, but had been told by her parents.

"I am happy to study this book," she said.

Neth Sokha, a teacher at the school, said having a visual, written history helped aid the verbal history that so many in the older generation passed down.

"Young people often don't believe their parents when they tell them stories from the Khmer Rouge period. Now that it is written down, I think they will believe it."

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