In an attempt to create a better understanding of Cambodian history among youths, the Apsara Authority and Education Ministry have set up a series of educational programmes to encourage students to learn about ancient temples in Siem Reap province.
Ouk Sothea, the Education Ministry’s Cambodia National Youth Centre director, said yesterday that the programme aims to help promote cultural heritage among students.
Mr Sothea added that so far, students have visited several temples in Siem Reap in order to expose them to Cambodia’s history.
“Education changes children’s behaviour from ignorance to understanding and loving our national heritage,” he said. “Parents should also participate by encouraging their children to take part.”
Khieu Chan, the Apsara Authority’s Heritage Education Project teacher, said that the project consists of theoretical and practical teachings of ancient objects.
One aspect of the project enables students to replicate temple layouts in order to support archaeological research, he said.
“When we bring them to the temple, I don’t expect a full and complete education on the topics,” Mr Chan said. “We need to simplify our materials so that it’s easy for them to understand the geographical, historical and cultural aspects of our temples.”
Mam Mach, a Nokor Thom High School Student in Siem Reap, said that after joining the programme, he was able to participate in a geographical research project studying the Banteay Kdey and Lor Tani temples.
Mr Mach said that the project helped him understand the history behind the historical structures.
“We learned how to ask for information, compile information, understand the festivals and the history behind the temples that were previously unclear to me,” he said.
Chea Kunhing, a Grade 5 student at Srah Srang Elementary School, said she was most interested in religion and culture classes.
She noted that the programme has made a difference in students’ attitude toward history and culture.
“Our attitudes completely changed once we arrived at the Banteay Kdey temples,” she said. “We didn’t scream, play around, throw rubbish, sit on stones, vandalise or touch the statues.”