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New book to increase knowledge of Tonle Sap river's importance

New book to increase knowledge of Tonle Sap river's importance

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Committee wants Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to distribute book to all provinces

Photo by:
Tracey Shelton

A father and son return to the Tonle Sap village of Chong Khneas in Siem Reap province just before sunset after a day of fishing.

THE Cambodia National Mekong Committee (CNMC) last month distributed a new educational book in provinces near the Tonle Sap river that is designed to encourage people living nearby to protect and preserve its resources.

The book was distributed in Kampong Cham, Pursat, Battambang, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom and Banteay Meanchey provinces.

"The reason for the publication of this book is that the river is part of Cambodia's very valuable heritage, which we must protect and maintain carefully so that it will last forever," said Sin Niny, vice president of the CMNC, in an interview with the Post in December.

He said villagers living near the river will be more likely to protect it if they know about its resources.

Ultimately, the CNMC would like to educate people in every province about the river's natural resources and role in Cambodia's heritage. It has asked the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to consider disseminating the book throughout the country.

"If we cannot convince the ministry to include study of the environment in the academic program, the ability of students to understand environmental issues will be limited. But if the subject is included, students will learn. So it will effective," he said.

Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Im Sothy said he supports the wish of the CMNC to distribute the book widely. But he said he did not know when this might happen.

"We know there is too much pressure on the river's resources from development programs, which are threatening its environment and diverse biology," he said.

The minister said the pollution of the environment was the result of "extraordinary use of forest resource, fish, wildlife, and the cutting down of flooded forest".

"This big book is an achievement that will enhance the studies of students in provinces around the river," he said.

Ung Kensan, deputy director of the Pedagogical Research Department at the Education Ministry, said that even if all students did not take an active role in guarding the Tonle Sap river's resources, they might if exposed to the book, or they might tell family members about the river's importance, which could lead to changes in the ways people interact with the river.

She said she expects getting the message across will pose a challenge.

"I think it is not easy to educate them about the importance of the environment, and we need a long time to make them understand," she said.


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