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Photo of pupils learning outside prompts action

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen vowed to donate two buildings to O’Chunh Primary School after a photograph of students studying outside went viral. Photo supplied

Photo of pupils learning outside prompts action

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday ordered National Committee for Disaster Management first vice-president Kun Kim to visit O’Chunh Primary School in Teuk Kraham commune’s Sen Rung Roeung I village in Choam Ksan district, Preah Vihear province, after images of students studying in tents went viral on social media.

On Thursday, Kim confirmed that the students – most of whose parents are members of the armed forces – lacked adequate facilities.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife [Bun Rany] have offered to provide two school buildings with 12 classrooms made from concrete and tiled roof for the teachers and students at the school so they may study comfortably,” Kim said, adding that the construction would start in December.

O’Chunh Primary School teacher Sim Soklim told The Post that the school’s 425 students, including 234 girls, currently study in zinc-roofed wooden classrooms.

“Since we lack classrooms, the school director allowed me to bring the students to study in a tent under a tree.

“The students [seen studying in the photos] were in Grade 5,” Soklim said, adding that the pictures were shared online in an attempt to solicit donations from the public for the construction of two new classrooms.

As many as 80 students regularly studied together in the same classroom, said Soklim, but the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport informed the school that such a high number of students were not allowed to study in the same classroom.

Preah Vihear provincial Department of Education, Youth and Sport director Cheng Limhorn told The Post on Thursday that he had instructed officials to provide the school with 48 desks.

He said officials were studying the school before deciding where to construct the two new buildings.

Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport spokesman Ros Soveacha said the ministry received about 18 billion riel ($4.5 million) in annual funding from the Ministry of Economy and Finance for school construction and renovations.

The figure, he said, did not include private donations from Hun Sen and Bun Rany.

The ministry is currently repairing 39 schools in 19 provinces at a cost of 7.2 billion riel, Soveacha said.

“The Ministry of Education has never ignored any school and strives to offer classes at all grade levels to ensure high [educational] standards in the Kingdom,” Soveacha said.

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