Prisons Granted More Funds to Develop Libraries

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Sipar director Hok Sothik shakes hands with General Department of Prison Director Chan Kimseng yesterday at a ceremony commemorating the agreement. KT/Ven Rathavong

Cambodian’s prison libraries are set to receive an extra $600,000 in funding from the French Agency for Development and literacy NGO Sipar, according to a statement released yesterday.
 
Sipar director Hok Sothik said the extra funding will be spread out over three years and enhance 26 prison libraries across 10 provinces, as well as provide literacy classes and rehabilitation services such as vocational training.
 
“We contribute to provide education to them [prisoners],” he said, adding that the program’s purpose is to educate prisoners to prevent them reoffending.
 
Mr. Sothik said reading books helped develop prisoners’ cognitive abilities and helped sustain better emotional control.
 
“Before those prisoners never read books. After they received books from Sipar’s project some of them became readers, and they want to be authors, journalists, writers. This is a positive point,” he said.
 
He said there are about 50,000 Khmer books included in prison libraries from a wide range of genres including history, agriculture and entertainment.  
 
He urged prison officials to encourage inmates to read more.
 
Mr. Sothik said this is the fourth agreement between Sipar and the General Department of Prisons, with Sipar previously funding $1.2 million to develop the project included in the agreement.   
 
General Department of Prison Director Chan Kimseng said the program was a positive step for prisoner rehabilitation.
 
“They [prisoners] can take their free time to read books. It is better than they waste time to do useless things,” he said.
 
“Our officials provide a good service to them and those prisoners can borrow books to read in their cells.”

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