The Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is running a course to train 50 lecturers from 50 of the Kingdom’s universities to teach the history of the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979.
“Cambodia’s Genocide Conference” is being held over three days from Monday to Wednesday at the Sleuk Rith Institute at Phnom Penh’s National Institute of Cambodia.
The event will focus on the history of Democratic Kampuchea and encompass sessions on “Genocide in World History”, looking at atrocities in Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany and Rwanda.
Deputy DC-Cam director So Farina told The Post on Monday that this is the third training conference for university professors in Cambodia, with a focus on expanding their capacity to contextualise the genocidal regime during the Khmer Rouge and pass this knowledge on to students.
“We are conducting comparative studies with four other countries that experienced genocidal regimes. The teachers and professors can learn more about the four countries’ experiences. There are some similarities with the Khmer Rouge and some differences,” she said.
Farina said the conference features in-depth discussions to help understand that Cambodia is not the only country that has suffered in this way, and thus show that Cambodia is not isolated and is able to make reconciliation.
Professors of history, geography and Khmer literature will share their personal experiences and knowledge, she said.
“Understanding one’s own history can make us aware of where we come from and what our country once experienced under a genocidal regime. We have to know both the good history and the history that led to genocide and mass killings."
“We hope to inspire the younger generation to learn more about this genocidal regime, so they will learn to understand it, rather than forget and cast it aside. By hearing from and about the victims, we strengthen our resolve to ensure history does not repeat itself,” Farina said.
She said DC-Cam and the ministry have been collaborating since 2009 to publish history books and incorporate them into the curriculum at the grassroots level for grades seven to 12.
This three-day course, Farina said, was aimed at introducing the ideas to more college level professors.
Ton Sa Im, the undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, said at the conference on Monday: “The training about the history of genocidal regimes will help to make sure it does not happen again and will bring more knowledge to Cambodia’s youth.
“We aim to bring the teaching of the history of Democratic Kampuchea to people of all walks of life, especially our young generation. We have walked away from the history we experienced in 1975-1979. Thanks to the momentous progress made in Cambodia, and our continuing efforts to this day, we have everything now."
“We cannot let this harmony escape from us. We must defend this peace,” she said.
Sa Im told the lecturers to focus greater attention on passing on knowledge of the genocide to the young generation as she has noticed that study by young people of the history of the Khmer Rouge was lacking.