Law enforcement agencies working alongside school management committees in Siem Reap, Takeo and Prey Veng provinces have rounded up students who skip school to engage in inappropriate activities like playing video games or smoking.

Their aim is to educate the truants and encourage them to return to school. The operations were carried out as students in certain provinces have been skipping class to socialise, play games, drink or engage in other activities.

Ly Bunna, director of the Siem Reap provincial Department of Education, Youth and Sport, said on September 14 that authorities had recently collaborated with a school principal to round up a group of truants in Sotr Nikum district.

The police educated them and instructed them to sign contracts agreeing to cease their activities, and had their guardians guarantee to take them home for further education.

He added that there were no further instances in the province of students leaving school premises after that.

“This is thanks to the involvement of law enforcement agencies, and advisers from the provincial education department who have provided guidance to school management and teachers, emphasising the importance of careful student supervision to prevent absences and loitering,” he explained.

Bunna said his department had met with school management committees and encouraged them to adhere to the directives issued by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.

Additionally, they reminded school principals to focus on enhancing students’ learning, with particular attention to preventing them from engaging in irregular activities outside the school premises.

Kuon Tao, principal of Ang Techo Preah Sdech High School in Takeo province, recently asked local authorities in Samrong district’s Boeung Tranh Kang Choeung commune to gather students who had been skipping classes to loiter in coffee shops or other locations that offered free Wi-Fi.

These locations enabled truants to engage in activities such as drinking, gambling and playing electronic games.

Earlier this month, Prey Veng provincial police chief Chhoeun Bunchorn issued instructions to law enforcement in the towns and districts to apprehend delinquent students.

During the operation, the forces gathered up numerous students, without impeding their freedoms.

“If teachers, guardians and members of the public or police do not engage in addressing this issue, our children’s futures could deteriorate, becoming a societal problem that requires extensive remedies. The nation’s development may encounter challenges, since these young individuals could potentially be valuable contributors towards achieving our national aspirations,” he said.

Ouk Chhayavy, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA), opined that one contributing factor to why some students skip school is the presence of enticing alcoholic beverage advertisements in public spaces.

Education ministry spokespersons were not immediately available for further comment.