The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport has issued a letter to all schools – both public and private – instructing them to curb any irregular activities on their campuses related to the February 14 Valentine’s Day holiday in order to maintain compliance with all precautionary measures and safety guidelines for the prevention of Covid-19.

In a letter dated February 8, education minister Hang Chuon Naron said teachers and administrators must ensure their students’ strict obedience to the existing Covid-19-related rules in addition to preventing any immoral activity by students inspired by the nature of the holiday.

He also urged that the councils for children and youth in schools initiate information sessions for students using “peer educators” who can talk to them about the importance of maintaining safety measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 while studying.

The letter advised the school boards to closely liaise with parents and communities in order to prevent any improper or immoral activities by students and to educate them about the risks involved with inappropriate behaviour.

Education ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha told The Post that the ministry always issues instructions similar to these to stop students’ involvement with inappropriate activities on or around Valentine’s Day each year.

“We have noticed that the majority of students understand clearly that Valentine’s Day is not a traditional festival for Cambodians, and we have communicated with students, parents and especially media networks to try and ensure that no one has any confusion about the meaning of February 14,” he said.

He said the ministry had encouraged educational institutions to hold charitable events or social programmes wherever practical on February 14 for students to join instead.

“On February 14 over the last few years, instead of celebrating a foreign holiday students at all levels have come to learn as they normally would and then also participated in social activities such as blood donation, charity work and Buddhist mental health education.