Cambodian children don’t have enough good books to read, so the Ministry of Education has invited NGOs and private printing companies to help.
The ministry, which has printed a supplementary reading book, recently invited organizations that provide books to children to review the new publication and discuss their own work.
Ministry officials said they were looking for ideas about what kind of material to include in future supplementary books. Five agencies responded with a range of folk tales and stories they have produced for children.
One Cambodian folk tale, produced by Soutien a l’Initiative Prive des Pays du Sud-East Asiatique pour l’Aide a la Reconstruction, tells the story of three children abandoned in the forest by their mother, who runs off to live with a thief.
The story teaches children to stick together and love each other in the face of adversity, says kindergarten teacher Yim Vanny. Its lessons are useful for the growing number of Cambodian children who lose their parents to AIDS, she said.
Hok Sothik, chief of SIPAR’s library program, said, “We have produced a lot of books for children to read. There is a deficiency of reading books” in Cambodia.
Since its inception in 1991, SIPAR has opened 50 school libraries in seven provinces to encourage children to read. But even though SIPAR’s programs are going well, other areas of the country lack books, he said.
Teachers urged parents to encourage their children to read, noting that children who learn to love reading will continue to learn throughout their lives.
Hoeun Sothea appears to be getting that message already.
The 12-year-old said she likes reading books because reading “shows me about the world and helps improve my knowledge.”