Why education is the only answer to Cambodia’s problems

Working for Cambodia’s future
Written by SOVACHANA POU
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
Why education is the only answer to Cambodia’s problems

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Photo by: SOVACHANA POU

Cambodian students at Phnom Penh’s Wat Ounalum.

LIFE is calling. Cambodia is calling.  Being back home makes me think in a different perspective. I feel as an outsider stepping into, and an insider stepping out of, the same country. I look forward to contributing to the educational wealth of my beloved country through teaching. I am at the stage of my life where my primary goal is to help develop the younger generation to lead useful lives for the benefit of human kind.

I feel my work has just begun.

As any patriotic Cambodian, I am proud of my heritage and my tradition.  After many wars, our country and our people suffered enormously and faced many setbacks, such as deep-rooted mistrust, Khmer killing Khmer, grinding poverty, injustice, greed, corruption, land grabbing, nepotism, a culture of impunity, oppression of thoughts and actions, fear, destruction of our natural resources, safety, security, education, lack of respect of the rules of laws, etc.

Poverty is rampant all over the world, but there is nothing like being poor in Cambodia. It is very fashionable to talk about the poor so the top leaders can get more foreign aid.  Unfortunately, it is not fashionable to talk with the poor to find out the reality of their sufferings. The environment most Cambodians are living in now is hurting the next generation. We have lost many traditional values.

The reality is Cambodia is still a very poor country, plagued by uncertainties and a mess of contradictions. I don’t have all the answers to the complex problems. I am far from perfect, but as a teacher I learned early that I can’t fix everything but can help most things.  I know I cannot offer material goods or gifts to the children but I always can offer pieces of my love through teaching and learning.

I cannot erase all the dark sides of the current government, but I can change the way I deal with it. I can rise above it and stay strong and true to myself by applying the teachings of Buddha: “abstain from all unwholesome deeds or do not engage in any harmful actions; always perform only wholesome ones, those that are good, subdue and purify your own mind”. By practicing Sila (morality) and following the five precepts (refrain from killing, stealing, telling lies, all intoxicants and immoral sexual activity) I can inspire others to think and act with integrity and vision for a sustainable and just society.
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