Cambodia Education Faces Up To Khmer Rouge Past

After years of a politically charged debate on how Cambodian schools should or should not handle the tragic past when the Khmer Rouge governed the nation, the Education Ministry has decided to move forward with an extensive program of teaching about what happened. The Ministry has authorized the Documentation Center of Cambodia to train 1,000 teachers on how to present this sensitive era to students. Documentation Center Director, Youk Chhang, hopes “at the end of 2009 all high school students will learn about the history of the Khmer Rouge.”

Until now this topic is rarely found in history books and few teachers undertake extensive discussions about the topic of the Khmer Rouge’s brutality. Many teachers for years have urged the Education Ministry to take on the task of developing a Khmer Rouge curriculum and training teachers in how to teach it. Chhun Sartum, director of the Wat Koh High school says, “I support and encourage Cambodian students to learn about the Khmer Rouge because Cambodian children have to know about the very painful history that their relatives and country suffered.”

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