Youk Chhang (C), director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, and Minister of Education Im Sothy sign an MoU, yesterday, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012. Photograph supplied
The Documentation Center of Cambodia and the Ministry of Education signed an agreement yesterday granting the historical research non-profit body an empty plot of land on the former Boeung Trabek detention centre site for a museum, school and research centre, said DC-Cam director Youk Chhang.
According to the project’s website, the Sleuk Rith Institute – whose name is a reference to the papyrus-like leaves once used by Cambodian scholars to record history – will be situated near Boeung Trabek High School, and will set out to be “the leading centre for genocide studies in Asia”, in addition to housing facilities through which DC-Cam will continue its work of recording the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge.
In addition to its school of genocide, conflict and human rights and its genocide museum, the institute, said Chhang, will be involved in examining and recommending national policy.
“DC-Cam has always been engaging the government on all issue[s] through research,” Chhang added.
Leng Bun Hong, secretary-general of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association – which has raised concerns over the project in the past – said the union feared the institute would displace students, if not now, then in years to come.
“I think that for my idea, the [number of] students will increase more in the future, so the government and ministry should keep the school’s land to balance with student’s growth,” Bun Hong said, noting that “some areas must be preserved”.
Chhang, on the other hand, insisted the project would represent a net gain for education.
“We will build a school, museum, research centre not only for both teachers and students at Boeung Trabek High School, but [for students] all across Cambodia,” he said.