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Calls for stricter checks of school buildings after Kep disaster

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Students walk outside a school during their break time. KT/Pry Nehru

Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron, yesterday instructed principals and relevant officials across the Kingdom to regularly inspect schools for cracks to ensure the safety of students.

The Kingdom has been experiencing collapsing buildings over the year. In June, a construction building collapsed causing the deaths of 28 people.

Most recently, 36 construction workers and members of their families were killed in Kep province when a building under construction collapsed.

During a food safety campaign held in Phnom Penh’s Preah Norodom Primary School, he noted the ministry has introduced a policy to strengthen management in schools, which focuses on promoting students’ rights, welfare and safety.

“Protecting the safety of students not only involves food, but the school should also be a place where children are safe, have peace of mind, and are not threatened by gangs or face cyber threats,” Mr Naron said.

He instructed education officials across the country, especially school principals, to cooperate with relevant officials to regularly monitor and evaluate the condition of school buildings to avoid any collapse.

“We are paying strict attention to safety in schools and if a building is too old, damaged or has cracks, we will ban it from being used for classes to avoid any accidents,” he noted. “So, the ministry will continue to implement this policy.”

Mr Naron also stressed the need to ensure that food sold in schools are safe for students to consume.

The ministry has banned six categories of items it considers harmful to students.

They include the sale in schools of all kinds of food past the expiry date; have no clear source of origin; alcohol and tobacco products; all kinds of energy drinks, sweet beverages, coffee, ice cream and seafood; all kinds of chocolate, candy and chewing gum and all kinds of jelly, doughnuts and sweets.

Mr Naron also instructed school principals to immediately stop any vendors who continue to sell these six categories of items outside the school premises.

“The school principals, teachers, students, parents, and all stakeholders have to participate to protect the health of our children so that our children can become quality human resources,” he said.

Meas Chhorporn, principal of Preah Norodom Primary School, yesterday said that the school management previously held meetings with food vendors plying their trade near the school fence to inform them of the ban on the six categories of food items.

He noted that they have asked some vendors to sign a contract promising to stop selling such foodstuff.

“We implemented the action to safeguard the health of our students,” Mr Chhorporn said. “If they consume unsafe food from childhood, it could impact their health in the future.”

He noted that the school management also regularly inspects the school’s buildings.

Mr Chhorporn said if any cracks are found or if a building is old, the school will engage experts to study and evaluate the building’s technical specifications to determine whether to repair or rebuild it.

Ry Sreyna, 11, a Grade 6 student in the school, yesterday said she used to have health problems after eating foodstuff which had no clear source of origin in the school.

“I experienced food poisoning a few times, during which I suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea,” she noted. “Since then I’ve been trying to reduce the consumption of unsafe foodstuff at school, including high-sugar drinks.”

The Ministry of Education has collaborated with three private companies to conduct food safety campaigns at schools across the country starting from January 1 to 31 to ensure that food in schools does not contain chemicals and is hygienically prepared.

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