The National Election Committee (NEC) has begun organising educational sessions on the “importance of elections” in public and private educational institutions, starting with Oddar Meanchey and Banteay Meanchey provinces. The sessions, which will be rolled out nationwide, are designed to raise the awareness of young people about their roles in a broad democratic society.

In a press release, NEC said it ran sessions in public and private schools in Oddar Meanchey on October 6 and Banteay Meanchey on October 8, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. It is hoped that future elections will be made more efficient if young people have a sufficient understanding of them.

NEC deputy secretary-general Mok Dara said the outreach course educate young people about their right to vote, voter registration and how elections are the core of any true democracy.

“These courses will are part of our plans to encourage people who are just reaching voting age to register themselves, according to NEC deadlines. This year’s registration will take place from October 20 to December 8,” he was quoted as saying in the press release.

Dara said the sessions featured presentations by senior NEC officials on four topics, including the history and process of the election, the voter list review, regular voter registration and the importance of youth participation in a democratic society.

Sam Kuntheamy, executive director of the NGO Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections (NICFEC), told The Post on October 9 that the launch of the courses would contribute to the promotion of democracy through the participation of students in the election, especially the people who have just reached the age of 18.

He said that ahead of previous elections, the NEC held similar sessions with students at some universities, but this time the NEC planned to do all 25 provinces and capital to make the youth understand the importance of elections and the process of democratisation.

“Once they become more active in the election process, it will contribute to the promotion of democracy and human rights in Cambodia. They are the future owners of the country, so they deserve the chance to participate in the election of the country’s leaders through their favorite parties,” he said.

According to Kuntheamy, it is not enough to organise educational seminars and disseminate information to Cambodian students. The NEC should expand the scope of its public forums to include the general public, he suggested.