Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Archaeology gets education boost, but pay remains poor

Archaeology gets education boost, but pay remains poor

Students from the Royal University of Fine Arts practise survey and mapping techniques at Angkor Wat
Students from the Royal University of Fine Arts practise survey and mapping techniques at Angkor Wat. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Archaeology gets education boost, but pay remains poor

A new training course is set to enhance the skills of Cambodia’s next generation of archaeologists. However, experts are saying it is poor pay rather than a lack of educational opportunities that hampers efforts to restore and preserve the Kingdom’s historical treasures.

The three-month master's degree course, which is intended to produce more professionals specialising in archaeology, is set to begin this month and will be taught in both Khmer and French.

Trainees will learn advanced skills in managing, repairing and restoring archaeological sites.

The course, which is backed by UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, will also see students add to Cambodia’s catalogue of archaeological significant sites.

“Cambodia is an archaeologically rich country, but with a weak database established by the ministry,” said UNESCO spokeswoman Anne Lemaistre. She added that better education about archaeology would be a boost to Cambodia.

“We will need quality tour guides for the archaeological sites in the country, and they should be trained and have a diploma,” she said.

Culture and Fine Arts Minister Phoeung Sakona has said the country is suffering a serious shortage of human resources in the archaeological field and urged more Cambodians to learn how to preserve and restore resources.

But Kaseka Phon, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s Faculty of Archaeology, said a bigger problem was a lack of state funding. “The government must give more funds on heritage preservation and restoration,” he said.

Phon added that low salaries drove graduates away from the profession into other fields.

“The wage of Khmer lecturers at the Faculty of Archaeology is $5 per hour. Whatever the government designs will not be successful if salaries remain this low,” he said.

Cambodia has long relied on foreign countries and donors to support international excavation projects and shows little sign of taking on more funding responsibility.

The US Ambassador Fund for Cultural Preservation recently announced a provision of $47,000 to the Archaeology and Development Foundation to support a one-year research project for documentation and preservation of newly discovered Angkorian sites on Kulen Mountain, which UNESCO has recommended be classified as a World Heritage Site in 2012.

Meanwhile, UNESCO is behind a permanent exhibition titled Post-Angkorian Buddha in the National Museum of Cambodia. It has also begun a series of renovation projects in the museum since 1993 to better protect collected artefacts.

Alison Carter, who has worked as an archaeologist training students in Cambodia for nine years, agreed there could be more support for training and increased public education about Cambodia’s cultural heritage between the prehistoric and the post-Angkorian period.

Setting up buildings and sites so they are friendlier to tourists could also create better awareness of archaeology, heritage protection and appreciation for Cambodia’s history, she said.

Carter added that the looting of sites and Cambodia’s burgeoning construction industry threatened the archaeological field survey across the country.

“Many times, we might not know an archaeological site exists or the extent of a site until it has begun being destroyed, by looters or perhaps by construction projects,” she said.


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of

  • Australian police investigating death threat against Kem Ley's widow

    Updated: 10:17am, Friday March 23, 2018 Australian authorities on Thursday confirmed they have launched an investigation into a crudely written death threat sent tothe family of slain political analyst Kem Ley and Victoria state MP Hong Lim. The typed letter, reported to Victoria police last week, is

  • Phnom Penh smothered in smelly, dangerous haze as landfill fire continues burning

    A putrid haze that has bedeviled Phnom Penh since Monday night will likely continue as a landfill in Dangkao district continued to burn on Friday, creating health risks for the capital's residents. Workers at the Dangkao landfill on site on Friday attributed the fire, which