Dated on 25 April 2001, Phnom Penh

/Why Junior High Schools becoming an issue? /

ASAC started in 1994. At that time, the shortage of classrooms was estimated to be about 10,000 all over Cambodia. Since then, a lot of organizations and people including politicians have been supporting the construction of schools. Then a simple question comes up. Is the shortage being recovered?
Since Mr. Sakakibara came to assist us at the right time, we asked him to sort out data to answer the question. Then we were surprised to find that the shortage was increasing despite our expectations. Nationwide data for details was difficult to obtain. So we worked on data available from the Ministry of Education. We simply subtracted the number of physically existing classrooms from functioning classes. Then we found that the shortage of rooms in the year 2000 was 15,547 even when the classrooms with no roofs, walls and desks are counted.
The new government started in 1993. For seven years since then, 581 primary schools have been newly built and the number reached 5,274 in total. Meanwhile the number of students increased by 36% and reached 2,211,731, while schools increased only by 12%. This is because most of our school construction works were repairing or extending old school houses, not building new schools. Students are increasing year by year and newly enrolled students back then are coming around the time of graduation.
In the meantime the number of junior high schools have increased only by 2.5% and reached 363 in all and students by 4% and reached 233,278. There are far from enough junior high schools to accommodate primary school graduates after all. Following the Ranarith Junior High, we are setting about building the 2nd junior high, Ang Romeas and have it done within two years with the cooperation of Ajinomoto Labor Union. Around the site, there are 15 primary schools whose graduates the junior high school is supposed to accommodate. Our support activities seem to be shifting to the 2nd stage.

/ 54 in the Blazing Sun /

The long-lasted rain, which was out of the season, suddenly stopped miraculously. We usually have an intermittent shower in the New Year' days and our happy feelings grow. This year, however, there was no rain and the sun was blazing down to the earth everyday and we had a true dry season for the first time in a long time. Clouds of dust were raising everywhere in the town. People were wearing dust masks from various kinds of cloth and they were so stylish.
I put a thermometer in a sunny place to check how hot it was and then it read 54. This temperature exceeds the highest record of 53, which I experienced during UNTAC autonomy. The humidity was 25%. Then the temperature on the thermometer jumped up and we sensed it was about to rain. On April 25th, the long awaited rain finally came. It rained cats and dogs. I woke up early next morning in the refreshing cool air. The room temperature was 29. When you are exposed in extra-high temperature all the time, you feel cool under that relatively high temperature. All the floors, walls and furniture in our house got uncomfortably warm under the burning sun. But once it rains, it cools down. Mariko-san has completely adjusted to the life in Cambodia. But this time, she deeply appreciated the blessing of the rain.
Luckily transport of school construction materials for Stung Chhveing primary school was completed before the rain. When we went to check the condition, our car got stuck in the mud and we were forced to ride a motorcycle and changed onto a boat. The Chief of Batheay district also appeared to have come by the same transportation means. When he arrived, his pants were covered by mud. He told us about the children who saw cars for the first time. He said they were watching the scene of the construction works every day. He also told us about the price of rice, which was kept low, suddenly jumped up since the cars started to run. We enjoyed these stories and found how our work affects people's lives.

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