From April 20 to May 18, all public and private educational institutions will be closed to maintain order and support Cambodia's hosting of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, said a directive from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.

Cambodia will host the biennial multi-sport extravaganza on May 5-17, for the first time in history.

Seng Oeun, the principal of Phum Thmey Primary School in Banteay Meanchey province’s O'Chrou district, said he will follow the ministry’s directive, signed by minister Hang Chuon Naron on March 22.

Oeun told The Post that the main holiday break usually takes place in October, but after the Covid-19 pandemic the timing of the vacation period was changed.

“Last year, the major holiday took place in December, but this year the ministry has required us to close from April 20 to May 18 to support the SEA Games and Para Games, so we must follow,” he said.

Tan Kosal, the principal of Koh Pong Sat Primary School in the province’s Preah Netr Preah district, said he will comply.

“Although our school is in a remote area that does not disturb public safety during the sports events, we need to follow the ministry's instructions,” he said.

The two principals said students will be able to return to school after the games and studies will then continue until the end of December.

Some citizens expressed dissatisfaction with the plan, however, reportedly due to the cost of tuition for private schools and the lengthy break from learning for students.

Tan Ratana, whose younger brother attends a private primary school in Phnom Penh, told The Post that the ministry should have notified the public further in advance because she has now paid for her brother's school fees for the second quarter courses already.

“The school does not offer us any discount. The timing of the ministry's instructions now is a big loss for people who are paying for their kids to go to private schools. A long-term vacation in the middle of the year like this is also a huge waste of study time for the students,” she said.