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Flood-struck high school reopens

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Students in Russey Keo return to class after three months amid conerns that they are not prepared to take their end-of-semester exams after being denied extra hours to catch up

Photo by:

Heng Chivoan

Students at Russey Keo's Chea Sim Cham Reoun Rath High School raise the flag their first day back after school reopened.

MORE than 1,400 students have returned to their studies at a Russey Keo district high school that was closed for three months due to severe flooding.

The Chea Sim Cham Reoun Rath High School was just one of more than 20 schools in the area that closed their doors in October after a series of downpours inundated their campuses.

Some of the schools began to reopen last month as floodwaters subsided.

But the relief of being able to return to class has been tempered by the knowledge that the long absence from school has left many students woefully unprepared for upcoming exams, students and educators say.

"Now that we've returned to classes ... we've got to face the  end-of-semester exams," said Loy Leakhana.

But the 17-year-old, who had previously paddled to school twice a week to ask when it would reopen, said she was happy to be free of the boredom of staying at home.

"I was so happy when I saw the floodwaters coming down and saw a sign telling us a date to come back," she said.

Fellow student Sok Visith said he had forgotten nearly all of his lessons during his unexpected holiday.

"I want to be have a future as an architect, so I am very happy to be able to get back to my studies," he said.  

Some 300 students were able to study at nearby schools, but one, 19-year-old Seth Vuthy, said classroom performance generally deteriorated in the new environment.

"My studies seemed to get worse and worse because most of the teachers came late," he said. "But now it's getting better and I'm happy to be studying in my old school."

More classes denied

Many students have asked for extended daily lessons to make up for lost time as first semester exams approach.

But the school's director, Dy Tep Kosal, said  that he lacked the resources for additional class time and was still struggling to repair the school's facilities damaged by the flooding.

"We are pleased the students want more classes, but we can't do it because our school has a shortage of classrooms and we can't pay the teachers for overtime," he said.

Residents blamed the flooding on local development projects, including the filling in of Boeung Kak lake. Amid pressure, city officials last month temporarily suspended the private development, but allowed work to resume shortly thereafter. 

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