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Ministry to schools: Lunar New Year not recognised holiday

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Students in class at Prek Leap High School in 2022. Hong Menea

Ministry to schools: Lunar New Year not recognised holiday

All public schools shall operate as normal during this year’s three-day celebration of the Lunar New Year, which falls on January 22, as it is not a national holiday, said a senior official from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.

Speaking to the media on January 18, ministry spokesman Ros Sovacha said that although some Cambodians of Chinese descent will observe the traditions of the festival, class shall continue throughout the period.

He added that the ministry has long called on all educational institutions to take disciplinary action against any staff or students who are absent during the New Year.

“Lunar New Year is not a public holiday on the official 2023 calendar. Inform all teachers and staff to hold their regular classes. Parents and guardians who choose to observe the holiday should do so without affecting their children’s education,” he said.

Ouk Chhayavy, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA), said that even if a school operates as normal during the New Year, the majority of students – and many of the teachers – are usually absent. This practice has almost become a tradition.

“I suggest that the education ministry – and other state institutions – give the event less publicity by not talking about it each year. It is not a part of Khmer culture, so they should not be celebrating it, whether on social media or in public places. Cambodians should know what is beneficial to their culture,” she said.

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