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First stone laid for Unesco craft school

First stone laid for Unesco craft school

A

FOUNDATION stone laying ceremony for a new Unesco funded school which will

teach traditional methods for making Cambodian handicrafts was held at

historical Wat Sbeng on June 16.

Supote Prasertsri, an Education Program

Specialist with Unesco, said: "Unesco is interested in revitalizing traditional

skills like silk-weaving, silver smithing and bronze work.

"We hope the

traditional processes, to be taught by master trainers, will allow the students

to produce things like Buddha images, temple bells or family utensils. Other

skills that may be taught at the school include traditional carving,

architecture, and painting."

Prasertsri said: "The mandate of Unesco is

to provide funds for projects that will revitalize Cambodia in a culturally

sensitive manner. One reason for choosing this village is its location near the

old Khmer imperial capital of Odong. "

He said the school would be

managed and run by the monks at Wat Sbeng and serve the district of Ponhea Leu

in northern Kandal Province.

Nouth Narang, Secretary of State in the

Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said at the ceremony: "If we want to

revitalize Cambodian culture, we must remember that the wat played an important

role in preserving culture and in educating the people in the surrounding

area.

"The monks also played a role in social mobilization. The monks

were the chief social organizers, the laymen were the

imple-menters.

"Even during the period of French rule, when secular

schools were introduced and infrastructure was improved, it was the monks who

mobilized the effort."

The head monk, 80-year-old Lut Laie, told the

audience: "Wat Sbeng used to be a royal wat, if someone wanted to celebrate

here, they had to ask the King. It has a special place in Cambodian

history."

Laie entered the Wat when he was nine years old. He was

disrobed by the Khmer Rouge in 1975 but returned to the monkhood in 1979.

Narang said: "It is hard to find a monk as qualified as Laie. He is one

of the reasons that we decided to build the school here."

Prasertsri

said: "Wat Sbeng was completely destroyed by the KR. They also disassembled a

large outdoor stone Buddha which is now just a pile of stones circled by a brick

wall."

The school will be opened in three months. It is one of several

community learning centers planned and funded by Unesco to be constructed in the

provinces.

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