Dated on June 16, 2002 Phnom Penh

/ Root for literacy classes /

A newly elected commune leader, Miss Chorine Slim, who was a student of our literacy class, said that she learned a lot from the class about such things as the Civil War, the floods which took place two years in a row, women's situations and domestic violence; and now she is determined to put her heart into building a good community for all the people. Literacy classes are aimed for people who lost the chance of taking education during the War so that they can realize their own society's situations. It also gives them courage to work on improving their lives themselves. 467 people escaped the darkness of illiteracy this year (about 3000 people in the last seven years). Though this kind of aid is not as conspicuous as the construction of schools, people who were left without the opportunity for education including children are dying to have the chance.

/ Infrastructure is making progress but what about schools? /

The old Route 3, a national road, has made a great change. Those endless pits along the roads were all cleared away. Familiar restaurants on the roadside were replaced drastically. Cambodia is surely changing. We see the wave of reform surging in the field of education. Library education has been incorporated into regular classes and is spreading throughout the country. The project of "priority for educational activity" conducted by the Ministry of Education came into action, and requests for libraries are increasing. On the other hand, there are problems to be solved, such as the new registration system which stripped the privilege of tax exemption from NGO's and imposed consumption tax on them. The Asian Development Bank, with some other help, started projects to build schools with about 10,000 classrooms. But this is a project based on loans and the money should absolutely be paid back. Will villages and governments be able to pay back the money? I have heard earnest voices pleading for the NGO's to build schools. We just wish to create the environment where children can study without anxiety. Even though the range of our business has expanded, I never forget about the time when we first started. I suppose the tour participants, who saw the old school houses, which can collapse at any time, understand the problems.

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