With the country grappling with drought and soaring temperatures, the Ministry of Education issued a directive on Monday cutting the amount of time students sit in sweltering classrooms for the remainder of the hot season.
The standard morning school session from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. will now conclude half an hour earlier, while the afternoon session, normally lasting from 1 a.m. to 5 p.m., will commence 30 minutes later, the statement said.
“The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport has informed provincial education departments of the following schedule for studying during the dry season due to the very hot weather,” said the statement, signed by Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron.
“[T]he recent rising heat in the dry season could be prolonged in 2016 and that daytime heat could rise to 42C or 43C,” it added.
The statement recommended that students be given a 15-minute break every hour, that teachers ensure windows and doors are open in classrooms and that students play in shaded areas during breaks. It also called on teachers to ensure that students stay hydrated and avoid drinking water that has not been purified or boiled first.
Ros Salin, the ministry’s spokesman, said he believed the shorter day would not negatively impact studies.
“We don’t want the hot weather to impact the health of students, especially young students,” Mr. Salin said.
“It will not impact studying because teachers can speed up study programs, and we have instructed that once the situation has returned to normal, we will inform to return to the original [program],” he added.
Leng Bora, a teacher at the Chea Sim Primary School in Preah Sihanouk province, welcomed the decision.
“I think it’s right,” he said. “It will affect the school schedule a little bit, but there will not be serious effects because it’s just for a short period during the hot weather.”