Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New teachers for KR classes

New teachers for KR classes

New teachers for KR classes

The US Institute of Peace on Wednesday announced the completion of a program – conducted by the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) – to train an additional 600 educators to teach Khmer Rouge history in the Kingdom’s secondary schools.

In a statement issued yesterday, Katherine Wood, a grant adviser for USIP, said she hoped the $120,000 project would help to “heal the profound divisions in Cambodia that have persisted between survivors and perpetrators for the last four decades”.

Despite the influx of new teachers, DC-Cam director Youk Chhang said yesterday that additional financial support is needed to help the coursework to move beyond the “platform” level and bring a dialogue on – and ultimately the practice of – human rights and democracy to Asean nations.

“We are not learning history to be obsessed by it, or enslaved by it,” he said, “but to be free.”

DC-Cam pushed for the introduction of a genocide curriculum in Cambodian classrooms for seven years before the government acquiesced in 2009, making A History of Democratic Kampuchea a compulsory text for grades seven through 12. And while an estimated 1 million students have been exposed to the course, a limited number of qualified teachers and inadequate materials have hindered the project’s success, Chhang said.

“Right now, genocide education is a foundation, it’s a platform. It’s not really genocide education yet,” explained Chhang. “This process is very fragile.”

In 2012, a DC-Cam quality control study discovered that while teachers and students found the material easy to understand and unbiased, many of the 3,000 teachers trained were under-qualified to generate discussion (fewer than 40 per cent had university degrees). Additionally, there was “little evidence of actual learning” occurring. Several teachers said they feared teaching the material in the classroom.

Chhang recalled a history teacher who refused to teach the material and resigned. One of her arms was shrunken at her side, the result of having an IV of coconut juice injected into it as a child under the regime.

“She said ‘look at my arm’,” Chhang said, pointing to his own. “For her, it is very emotional.”

MOST VIEWED

  • All foreigners' accommodations to be inspected: Sar Kheng

    The Ministry of Interior is undertaking a serious effort to inspect all the accommodations of foreigners in Cambodia – except diplomats – in order to find and identify human traffickers. Minister Sar Kheng said this would include inspections on the homes of foreigners employed by businesses, private

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • NBC eyes KHQR payments in Laos, Vietnam

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) is working with Lao and Vietnamese authorities to expand the use of KHQR code cross-border payment systems to promote trade and investment as well as increase the scope of regional economic linkages, and in particular, facilitate remittances from overseas