The Ministry of Education has instructed all public and private institutions to take measures to prevent immorality on Valentine’s Day next week, as some students have mistaken ideas about the Western holiday.
Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron issued a notice on Tuesday saying that Valentine’s Day had a stronger influence in the country, making some youths forget to study, lose their reputation and that of their family, and engage in activities contrary to Cambodian culture and tradition.
He advised all education institutions to inform their students about the meaning of the day, strengthen the implementation of internal rules on morality, and work to maintain regular student attendance.
“Maintain close contact with students’ parents or guardians and communities to provide any information about irregularities committed by students to educate and instruct them on time,” he said.
Lay Tith, deputy director of Kampong Thom High School in Kampong Thom province, said his students were gradually being called into meetings to be educated on the meaning behind Valentine’s Day.
“My high school has advised all students to love Khmer culture and not to follow foreign cultures too much. We have advised them on how to prevent any irregularities contrary to national traditions,” he said.
Vannak Farady, a private school student in Phnom Penh, expressed support for the ministry’s notice, saying February 14 was not a day for lovers, but a day you could express affection to your parents, guardians, relatives, teachers, spouses, friends or other loved ones.
“Do not take the opportunity to do bad things with each other on Valentine’s Day,” he said.
Ouk Chhayavy, president of Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, also supported the ministry’s statement.
She said some Cambodians enjoyed foreign cultures and celebrated some non-Cambodian holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Christmas and Chinese New Year.
However, Ms Chhayavy asked relevant ministries to prevent media organisations from conducting any Valentine’s Day programmes or shows that might increase students’ interest in the day.
“Every year, we still see some students who think that Valentine’s Day is a day for couples, so we should prevent any related shows on TV because what students watch, they follow,” she said.
Valentine’s Day, also known as Saint Valentine’s Day, is celebrated annually on February 14. It is recognised as a notable cultural and commercial celebration in many regions around the world.