… It is indeed a great pleasure for me to join with all of you today to put into use a new school building which would contribute to the betterment of the children’s schooling in the area. May I take this opportunity also to express my sincere thanks to teaching staff and the community of Prek Kompoes for their efforts to reach me for assistance in the construction and improvement of schools in the district of Kandal Stoeung of Kandal province, one of which we are here to inaugurate. According to the report by HE Khim Bo, the school was first built in 1952 at the initiative of the head monk Ek Sieng of the pagoda of Prek Thloeung, since before Cambodia won independence from the French protectorate.
… Looking back into the tradition of our country, the Buddhist monks played very crucial roles in education, especially in gathering contribution for the construction of schools. In many visits to foreign countries, some of the friendly countries were confused that all of the Cambodian men have to enter monkhood. That was not true, I told them. I myself became a monk for a short time when my grandmother died. It was once a practice that men become monks in repayment of gratefulness to their parents. In relation to men staying in the pagodas, I told them that they went to pagoda for education because the pagoda in those days was indeed a school. Some stayed in their monkhood for their whole lives, while others just for the sake of being educated.
… As time went by less and less men stay in monkhood for the whole life because more schools have been made available. Because we have a good cooperation between the Buddhist and the secular worlds we have built more schools, especially here in Prek Kompoes commune the school has been built in many stages, in peace and in wartime. In between 1970 and 1975, Cambodia was divided into areas under the control of Lon Nol and those under the control of the National Liberation Front headed by Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk. Areas under Lon Nol were luckier because they have more schools and teaching staff, except from time to time there had been threats of artillery shells. As for those in the liberated zone of the front there were two differing situations. First there were no teaching activities when the area was liberated, and second, schooling continued while teaching was an unpaid job because we did not have a viable state system.
… Worse still, the Khmer Rouge, having placing their leadership upon the whole country between 1975 and 1979, completely destroyed the education system, where no-one was taught or teaching. After the liberation of the country from the genocide regime in 1979, though the then Government had little or nothing to assist the need for education, still the the National United Front, take for instance the area of Prek Kompoes, gathered teachers and children of school age to join in the campaign of those who know more teach those who know less, and those who know less teach those who do not know. As I could recall, we did not have even good chalk, but clay chalk or charcoal. However, with active participation of our people in education from the beginning, the education system in the whole country booms, as of now Cambodia registers 3.5 million students, where the number of students before 1970 – the Sangkum Reastr Niyum period — was less than a million.
… As for the Primary School of Prek Kompoes, in additions to school buildings built so far, I would suggest this time to build a two-storey building of twenty-classrooms like the one we built for the Primary School of Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh. I have just ordered five more solar-energized lights to be installed in addition to the existing ten – two of which should be placed here and the rest should go into the schoolyard. As far as how we call the school, I would suggest this time to name it after my father’s, the Primary School of Hun Neang-Prek Kompoes as it is built as a two-storey building like in the city. This is a token of gratefulness to my father for the birth, the life and education I have had to these days. I also have some school named after my mother’s like the Primary School of Di Pok-Kdey Lovea. Another reason for doing so was because the school is being built at the help of three pagoda boys – Hun Sen, the School Director Uy Sun and Okhna Mong Ritthi.
… In Cambodia, things are different from some countries in the world when talking about family relationship. No matter how old the child may be, he or she is still a kid for the parents. Take for in stance my parents consider me their young kid no matter how grown up I am. For them I am still a young kid. I would have similar approach to theirs with regard to my kids. No matter they had master or PhD degrees, they are still my children. It was in this respect that one day the School of Boeung Trabek brought a proposal to my father and he had HE Kep Chutema, the Mayor of Phnom Penh to come up with a plan. He then gave the plan to me and said, “Sen (Hun Sen) you take this plan and build a school in the Primary School of Boeung Trabek.” As for other countries, especially Europe, when they are at 18 years old, the kids are independent and possess every right. They may send their old-age parents to the house for old people, and on the contrary in Cambodia the older they get, the better care we children have to provide.
… Our Constitution states that the Cambodian children must complete at least nine-year education. To achieve this aim one of the efforts should be to place school as close as possible to the people so that their children could access schools and does not inquire payment for traveling to and from. As of this school, I think we could go from the Primary to the first-level secondary school, and from there, when the teaching staff and school facilities are available, they should be upgraded to the second-level secondary school. We have to provide school access to both male and female students. Sons can go to schools in far away areas, but parents have major concerns for their daughters to go the same distance. The best solution to ease parents’ concern is to bring the school facility, and in this case I mean the first-level secondary school of class 7, 8 and 9 to the communal level.
… I am very happy to notice that human resource training has become a national movement. From HM the King to the people in general, the monk, charitable persons, parents, students themselves have all been part and partial to the development of education sector. It is a crucially important role that human resource of high quality plays in the country’s development. We are living in the era of knowledge-based economy and not natural economy as before. We are living in a situation of competition, so quality and reasonably affordable prices are what we try to achieve.
… To be on the side of strong competitor and to make the country developed, human resource development is prime, where children of school-age are to be focused. It is not true to buy the idea that children of the urban families are doing better in school than those from the rural area. Children of the rich sometimes could not compete in school because they do not work hard in their studies, and it is not necessarily true that children of the poor could not do better. What is the most importance is the fact that they should have equal access to education. These days I have noticed that we have many competent people but they do not have chances, so they have not fully developed their natural intelligence yet.
… On the contrary to 2003 that we could bring water from Kompong Speu to Dangkao of Phnom Penh, and to 2004 that we could organize boat race in the Rolaing Ken before the Khmer New Year, this year we don’t even have water for cows and buffaloes. Drought severely affects not only Cambodia but also Thailand and Vietnam in the region. We all are looking only at the sky for rain. In Thailand they conducted this operation for an artificial rain, though it helps resolve only a small part of the problem and would be costly to my mind. Yesterday the Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Hor Nam Hong raised this issue with the Foreign Minister of Thailand and asked if they can help Cambodia with artificial rain. As for some parts of Cambodia where drinking water is a problem, like in Banteay Mean Chey and Battambang, I have ordered for water tank to bring in water for the people. I hope we will have some rain towards the Khmer New Year
Samdech Hun Sen has in that occasion provided two PCs, one copying machine, one printer and one ten KVA generator to the school of Prek Kompoes, ten million Riels to the people of Prek Thloeung for building dike to protect flood and a school building of six classrooms and five PCs and a printer to the Secondary School of Prek Kompoes.