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'Disaster' strikes schools as flooding disrupts curricula

'Disaster' strikes schools as flooding disrupts curricula

Monks from Wat Prasat Tramneak join with local villagers to repair National Road 6 on Friday, after it was badly damaged by flooding.

THE damage caused by Typhoon Ketsana has penetrated the Kingdom’s school system, “destroying” education opportunities for tens of thousands of students in Cambodia, officials said Monday.

At least 1,169 schools have been closed or are dealing with ongoing flooding, said Inth The, spokesman for the Ministry of Education. “Disaster … is destroying the quality of education in Cambodia,” he said. “Students are missing education while their schools are flooded.”

Although some schools have remained open, flooding on ground floors has forced students and teachers to wade through knee-deep water to hold classes on upper floors. “School directors and teachers must look after the students’ safety,” Inth The said.

In Kampong Thom alone, 132 schools have been shut, leaving more than 28,000 students in the lurch. “Now the students cannot study at school,” said Kim Visoth, director of the province’s Education Department. “We are worried about their missed lessons.”

He also raised concerns about students in grades 9 and 12, who are due to sit crucial national exams next year. “It is a big problem,” he said. “If the ministry does not delay [the exams], the students will not do very well.”

The Education Ministry has now urged provinces and municipal departments to create teaching “rotations”, whereby some students attend class on even-numbered days, while others come on odd-numbered days. Students, however, remain concerned.

In Phnom Penh, flooding blamed on heavy rain and the filling in of Boeung Kak lake has seeped into 10 schools in two districts. Tan Ratana, 19, a 12th-grade student at Russey Keo High School, said the system means her teachers are unable to offer detailed lectures in difficult subjects such as mathematics, physics and chemistry. “I am very worried about my education quality because my family is poor and doesn’t have enough money for my studies,” she said.