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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Water, water everywhere and not an exam in sight

Water, water everywhere and not an exam in sight

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Students in Russey Keo may have their December exams cancelled because their schools will still be underwater

Photo by:
Heng Chivoan

Children are towed through the Russey Keo district floodwaters Tuesday in an inner tube.

THOUSANDS of students, some of whom have already missed more than two months of school, will have their first semester examination cancelled if authorities in Phnom Penh are unable to drain floodwaters from their schools on time, an education official said.

Hout Samrith, the vice director at the Municipal Department of Education, Youth and Sport, told the Post on Sunday that the first-semester examinations for the 2008-09 school year will start next month, but some Russey Keo schools are still flooded.

"The flood was a setback. Thousands of students are not going to school because their schools are still flooded," said Hout Samrith.

"The first semester's examination program is coming in December, and if the schools are still flooded, then my students cannot take the exam. This will be a problem for us," he said.

Stuck at home

Dy Tep Kosal, the director of Chea Sim Chamreoun Rath High School, told the Post that he closed the school's doors a month ago because of flooding. More than 1,000 students from his school have been stuck at home since then, with only about 300 students from grade nine through 12 being sent to study temporarily at another school.

"More than 20 days of flooding will set back any school. The students here would be able to learn as well as the students in other schools in Phnom Penh if there were no rainfall," Dy Tep Kosal said.

"But if rainfall continues and the flood does not recede from my school, the first semester's examination will be cancelled," he added.

A new phenomenon

He said that his school has never flooded like this before, but since City Hall started to

develop the Russey Keo district, the facility and others have become swamped.

"I think if City Hall can move the water to the Prek Thnaot canal, then my school and others in the zone will no longer be flooded," Dy Tep Kosal said.

Kem Sophany, 17, a student at Chea Sim Chamreoun Rath High School, said that her home was also flooded, but that was not a serious problem because she could leave by boat. The bigger issue is that her school is under 135 centimetres of water, causing her to put her studies on hold.

"I want to be a good leader in the future, but I will not be able to ... if flooding continues. I want all the students to be able to go to school happily," said Kem Sophany.

Poch Thavirak, director of Tuol Sangke Primary School, said that he has about 500 pupils who are stuck at home due to flooding. He said that the floodwaters will not recede from his school in time for exams.

"I hope City Hall will be able to remove the water from the Russey Keo zone in order for the students to go to school," he said.

Two months of floods

Two months ago, 21 schools in Russey Keo district were flooded. Now, some of these schools have reopened their doors. But despite efforts, the problem remains. Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said that City Hall has tried everyday to get rid of the water, but with the almost daily rains, the flooding will not ease anytime soon.

"We cannot say when the flood will completely recede from this zone, but we are trying hard to remove the water everyday," Kep Chuktema said. "Now, we are not only fighting with flooding in Russey Keo, but also global climate change."

But education officials in Russey Keo district claim that, rather than climate change, a poorly planned development project that filled in a nearby drainage lake to make room for residential housing, a new dry port and a power plant, is to blame for the flooding.

Residents say the months of high water has brought pollution and sickness to those living there.



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