Schoolyard Football Prompts Discipline, Student Protest

An unidentified student at Bak Touk High School in Phnom Penh burned his shirt in protest Friday after a school guard slapped another student for kicking a football in the schoolyard during classes, according to school director Sok Sovanna.

The protesting student de­manded that school officials remove the guard who slapped Neang Vibol, a 17-year-old 12th- grade student.

The school guard used a mic­rophone to warn the students twice to stop playing, according to Sok Sovanna. “They played football in the yard at around 8 [am], which interrupted the study of other classes,” he said Sunday.

“I sent a guard to seize the ball, but the students passed it back and forth and the guard became like a monkey in a play. Facing those undisciplined students in order to maintain order, it was inevitable there would be a clash.”

Sok Sovanna was not clear whether the angered student attended the school.

Bak Touk High School has the most teachers (381) and students (about 8,400) of any school in the country. The school used to have a football yard, but sold the land several years ago to the nearby Juliana Hotel.

“Our students love sports, but we lack the location for them. If we let them play in the school they will destroy the flowers, school windows and walls,” Sok Sovanna said. Despite the potential damage that football-playing students could do to the school, Sok Sovanna said they could play in the school yard after 5 pm, when the other students leave.

Sok Sovanna complained that a number of students are impolite and irregularly attend classes.

“Two to three percent of them are gangsters and are always absent from class,” he said.

He said he is concerned that parents know very little about their children and that the school has difficulty reaching the parents to give them information.

“Family, society and school must cooperate,” Sok Sovanna said. “Then there will be progress.”


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