More than 900 schools will remain closed today, missing the usual Oct 1 start of the new school year due to flooding throughout the country, the Ministry of Education said in a statement.
“Nine hundred and four schools were affected by flooding and won’t be able to open in the new school year,” said Suong Yen, director of the construction department at the Education Ministry. And the number of non-starting schools may increase as flooding spreads to inundate more schools in Takeo and Kampot province, Mr Yen said.
Kompong Cham province schools are the worst affected by the flooding, with 230 school buildings closed, followed by Kompong Thom with 178 closures, Kandal with 133, and Phnom Penh with 22. The majority of the schools closed are primary schools in remote areas, the Education Ministry said. There are a total of 10,507 schools throughout the country.
Schools hit by flooding will only be permitted to re-open when both the inside and outside of the school is dry and cleaned, the ministry said, adding that students affected by closures will be given more time in the school day to catch up with missed lessons.
“The ministry has set up a budget in preparation for paying teachers who will teach overtime,” Mr Yen added. “We will conduct overtime teaching on holidays.”
Koem Visoth, chief of Kompong Thom’s provincial education department, confirmed that 191 schools in his province were affected by flooding, and only 13 schools will be able to open tomorrow.
“We can’t allow children to walk to school on the roads, because those children will drown,” Mr Visoth said. “I feel worried that they won’t start to study on time. We will have to teach the curriculum faster than usual this year.”
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teacher’s Association, said the Ministry of Education should extend the school day this year to make up for the lost study time.