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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Illegal book hawkers warned

A science book (centre) released by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport with a red and yellow label in the corner reading ‘Not for sale’ and ‘State property’
A science book (centre) released by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport with a red and yellow label in the corner reading ‘Not for sale’ and ‘State property’ sits among other books at a market in Phnom Penh yesterday. Hong Menea

Illegal book hawkers warned

Market vendors hawking pirated government textbooks have a month to get their shops in order if they want to avoid an authority-led crackdown, a statement released on Friday by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport warns.

Selling or buying textbooks labelled “not for sale” or “belongs to the State” is illegal, the statement signed by Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron says.

“The Ministry of Education [MoEYS] will cooperate with authorities to crack down in every market, bookstore and centre, to confiscate the books,” and “suspects will face legal punishment”, the announcement reads.

The warning gives vendors a one-month head start, Lim Sotharith, a director at the ministry said yesterday.

“At the same time we’re taking action in markets or bookstores, we will take action against schools and their education departments to find out who is selling or distributing the state-owned textbooks to markets,” Sotharith said, adding that legal action would then follow, and teachers or education officials found guilty would be punished, suspended or fired.

The education system is designed to provide mandatory textbooks free of charge for an entire academic year, Sotharith explained.

And yet, despite multiple public warnings on copyright infringement, demand for pirated textbooks nationwide indicates that students are still struggling to access the books.

In a statement released two weeks ago, the Khmer Institute for National Development (KIND) and Affiliated Network for Social Accountability-East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA EAP) recommend that the ministry directly oversee and monitor the delivery and distribution of textbooks.

The statement was released on the heels of a report published by KIND and ANS EAP in December, which found that 23 out of 33 schools surveyed had received textbooks from local education authorities, often at a price.

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