Monthly Archives: June 2011

Join Internet Talk at CTN

Last Thursday, Tivea Koam and I were invited to share experiences after working as Cambodian news reporters for more than a year. At the same time, we got a chance to briefly talked about some of our school projects we have completed since year 1 to year 3. The projects include the establishing of KON magazine, and 9 video documentaries we just produced. Below is the interview clip I just got from the station. Cheers,

By: Dara Saoyuth
Footage recorded on 23/06/2011

Living in a pagoda, an alternative to stay and study in Phnom Penh_edited version

Student living in pagoda

Student living in pagoda / by: Pha Lina

Measuring just 8 square metres, it’s about half as big as a typical school classroom. One student is doing his homework on a table supporting two desktop computers, adjacent to a broken window. Another student strolls in and begins searching for some lost items in a row of old plastic closets on the opposite side of the room. All in all, the room isn’t much different from the other eight rooms at the monastery, each housing four students in a tiny space. Monastery 10 stands to the west of the main entrance to Mahamuntrei pagoda, surrounded by a number of stupas.

 Oeum Vanna, 25, who hails from Kampong Speu province and hopes to continue his education at university, has been living in the pagoda for more than three years.

As he walks out of his room in his student’s uniform, he explains how he came to stay at the pagoda. “My parents asked this pagoda for permission two years before my high-school graduation,” says the first of four children born to a Kampong Speu farming family.

Ouem Vanna says that living at a pagoda means one has to adhere to its internal rules, including being out no later than 9pm. That deadline is not flexible, as at that time, the monks lock the gates of the pagoda for the security of the students.

Not every student who comes from the provinces gets a chance to stay at a city pagoda. “Only students with good backgrounds who come from impoverished conditions are permitted to stay here,” says Sao Oeun, head of the monastery at Mahamuntrei pagoda. Sao Oeun is responsible for administering the activities in the nine-room building.

He explains that every student seeking to live at the pagoda needs to undergo background checks to make sure he has a good academic history, no criminal record, and has displayed exemplary behaviour, as judged by his village chief or school principal.

Sao Oeun says he doesn’t want troublemakers at the pagoda, because this would disturb the lives of the rest of the students.

In fact, monks from the provinces with hopes of changing their own pagodas in some way have first priority when space is being allocated at the pagoda. All the extra rooms go to students from rural areas. “There are not many rooms for all students who want to be in the Phnom Penh, but at least we can help some of them,” the head of the monastery says.

Mahamuntrei pagoda is not the only place students can seek accommodation when transferring to the city to continue their education. Samrong Andet, in Sangkat Phnom Penh Thmey, just outside Phnom Penh, is another pagoda that accepts rural students seeking to better their circumstances.

Since 1993, when the pagoda began accepting students, thousands have stayed there free of charge. Two hundred are currently staying at the pagoda. Ra Son, one of the four monks responsible for overseeing the pagoda boys, says the pagoda’s grounds contain 100 rooms in which students can stay, with two students occupying each small room and four in each large room.

Even after face-to-face interviews and extensive background checks, not all the miscreants can be weeded out, and some still commit offences while living at the pagoda.

“No one can be perfect all the time,” Ra Son says philosophically.

By: Dara Saoyuth and Tang Khyhay
This article was published on LIFT, Issue 77 published on June 29, 2011

Living in a pagoda, an alternative to stay and study in Phnom Penh_original version

Dear student blog visitors,

Below is a feature story focusing on the way of life of people living in pagoda. Here is the original version (not edited from any editor) I wrote with another LIFT reporter. The reason I decide to post the original version is that I don’t think the published version (already edited and cut) is fully covered as what we intended to do.

Enjoy reading here,

A Buddhist statue in Samrong Andet pagoda / by: Dara Saoyuth

A Buddhist statue in Samrong Andet pagoda / by: Dara Saoyuth

It is smaller than half of the typical school classroom, about eight square meters. Equipped with two desktop computers on the desk just next to the broken window, one student was doing his homework while another entered the room searching for his clothes in the two old plastic closets opposite the computers. With separated bathroom, it is not different from other eight rooms in the monastery where four students squeeze together for shelter. As quiet as the other monastery, the monastery number ten stands on the west of the main entrance of Mahamuntrei pagoda, surrounded by a number of stupas.

From Kampong Speu province and hope to continue his higher education in university, Oem Vanna, age 25, has been living in the pagoda for more than three years. Walking out of his room in student’s uniform, he stated how he could get to stay in the pagoda.

“My parents asked for the permission in this pagoda two years before my high school graduation,” said Oeum Vanna, the first son born in a farmer family that has four children.

Oeum Vanna said that living in the pagoda has to adhere to the internal rule of the monastery for example he could not be out later than nine o’clock at night since monks will lock the gates for the safety of the others.

However, not every student who comes from the provinces has a chance to settle down at the pagodas in the city. “All students who were permitted to stay here have to be in good background and in poor living condition,” said Sao Oeun, head of the monastery in Mahamuntrei pagoda, where he controls a nine-room building.

He said everyday student who were able to live here has to be verified with no criminal record, good academic performance and behavior from the village chief or school principal, explaining that he did not want the trouble makers to stay in the Buddhist area, and this would also disturb to the live of other students in the monastery.

Since the priority to be in the pagoda was given to monks at the provinces who hopes to change their pagodas for some reasons, the remaining available space keeps for students from the rural areas. “There are not many rooms for all students who want to be in the Phnom Penh, but at least we can help some of them,” said the head of the monastery.

Mahamuntrei pagoda is not the only place where students can ask for accommodation while they transfer their study to the city. In Sangkat Phnom Penh Thmey just outside Phnom Penh, Samrong Andet pagoda is one of the pagodas that can accept much more students than others. Since 1993, students have been accepted to stay in pagoda and so far, there are thousands of them who used to stay there while another more than two hundred students are staying in the pagoda for free of charge.

Ra Son, one among the four monks who are responsible in taking control of pagoda boys, said that the pagoda has around one hundred rooms varying from small to large rooms for students to stay, and the number of students in each room depends on the room’s size which normally two people in a small room and four people in a large room.

By just selecting students based on face-to-face meeting and reading their background from official papers they hand in, not all students being selected are good, and as a result, some of them commit offense upon living in pagoda.

“Some students have committed offenses because people are not perfect all the time,” said Ra Son; adding that if it is just a small offense, he would advise them not to do that again. But if it is rather big, he would ask their parents to come and talk, and if it is a big offense like criminal behavior, he would send them to authority in charged.

In Samrong Andet pagoda, students have to wake up and join a prayer program with monks about half an hour every morning starting from 5:35. “We not only call them to pray, but the other four monks and me take turn to educate all of them each morning, especially on how to behave well in the society,” said Ra Son.

Pagoda Students do not have to pay for monthly rented fees and even can have free meals as well as getting education from monks. Even though pagodas seem to be a good place for poor students who apt for education in the city, they are not meant as permanent accommodations.

Oem Vanna who has been living in Mahamuntrei pagoda for almost four years said that he had planned to leave pagoda and rented a room when his younger brother finished high school and came to Phnom Penh.

“When I first arrived in the city, pagoda was the only place for me because I do not have any money to rent a room, but now I got a job and at least can afford it, so i think that I should give opportunity for some other students from provinces to pursue their education.”

By: Dara Saoyuth and Tang Khyhay

Culture of reading is worth sharing

In this week issue of LIFT magazine, I wrote a column about situation of library in the Kingdom in related to reading culture of Cambodian.Recently, under supervision from their teacher, year I students in batch 10 at DMC have been to Kampong Cham province to meet with hundreds of children telling important of reading and encouraging them to read by providing some reading materials.

Dareth Rosaline, one of the DMC year I, has written a reflection piece to describe activities she and her classmates did during the community field trip.

Since the original post is in Khmer, so it takes time to translate into English. I will publish another version of this post in English after finishing translation. Cheers,

នៅក្នុង​សង្គម​កម្ពុជា​ វប្បធម៌នៃការអាន ត្រូវបានគេមើលឃើញថានៅមានកម្រិតទាប​នៅឡើយបើប្រៀបធៀបទៅនឹងប្រទេសដទៃទៀត។ ដោយមើលឃើញពីចំណុចខ្វះ​ខាតយ៉ាងនេះ និងដើម្បីចូលរួមលើកតម្កើងវប្បធម៌នៃការអានដល់កុមារា និងកុមារី និស្សិតមួយក្រុមនៃសាកលវិទ្យាល័យភូមិន្ទភ្នំពេញ ផ្នែកប្រពន្ធ័ផ្សព្វ​ផ្សាយ និង​សារគមនាគមន៏បានបង្កើតនូវសកម្មភាពជួយសហគមន៏ ដោយមានការសហការ​ជាមួយនឹងលោកគ្រូ សំបូរ ​មាណ្ណារា​​​ ​ដែលជាអ្នកមាន​បទពិសោធច្រើន​ឆ្នាំក្នុងកិច្ចការជួយ សហគមន៏។​ គម្រោងសកម្មភាពដែលពួកយើងបានបង្កើត​ឡើងនៅពេលនេះគឺសម្រាប់កុមារ៉ា កុមារីនៅស្រុកនគរក្នុង ខេត្តកំពង់ចាម ដោយ​យើង​បាន​ជ្រើសរើសយកបរិវេណក្នុង​វត្តនគរក្នុងធ្វើជាទីតាំង និងមានការចូលរួម​ពីកុមារ​ប្រហែលជា១៦០ទៅ២០០នាក់។ លើសពីនោះ យើងក៏ទទួលបានការចូលរួម​ពីសំណាក់អាណាព្យាបាល ក៏ដូចជាមេ​ភូមិ​ផ្ទាល់ផងដែរ។

Community activities

Community activities

សកម្មភាពចាប់ផ្តើមឡើងដោយ និស្សិតទាំងអស់ត្រូវបានបែងចែកជាក្រុម ដោយមួយក្រុមៗត្រូវចែករំលែកនូវចំនេះដឹងដល់កុមារ​ចំនួនប្រហែលពី​១៥​ទៅ​២០​នាក់។​​​បន្ទាប់ពីការចែលរំលែកចំនេះដឹងដល់កុមារ យើងក៏មានការ​សួរសំនួរ​ចម្លើយ​យក​រង្វាន់​ ក៏ដូចជាសកម្មភាពផ្សេងៗទៀតជាច្រើនដើម្បីផ្តល់ការសប្បាយដល់ពួកគេ។​​​​    នៅចុងបញ្ចប់នៃសកម្មភាពទីមួយ ក្រុមពួកយើង និងកុមារា កុមារីទាំង​អស់គ្នាបាននាំគ្នាសំអាតសហគមន៏​រួមគ្នាដោយម្នាក់ៗ​បានរើស ​សម្រាម ហើយនិង​ប្រមូល​​កាក​សំណល់ផ្សេងៗដាក់ក្នុងថង់ធំៗ រួចយកវាទៅដុតចោល។

ក្រោយមក សកម្មភាពទីពីរក៏បានចាប់ផ្តើមឡើង ដោយពួកយើងទាំងអស់គ្នា​បានបន្ត​ដំណើរទៅកាន់សហគមន៍មួយទៀតក្នុងស្រុកតំបែរ​ខេត្តកំពង់ចាម។ លើកនេះយើងត្រូវអនុវត្តសកម្មភាពជាមួយនឹង​កុមារ​ដែលមានអាយុចាប់ពី៨ឆ្នាំ​ទៅ​១៦​ឆ្នាំ។ មិនមានលក្ខណៈខុសពីទីតាំងទីមួយប៉ុន្មានទេ ព្រោះថានៅទីនេះយើងក៏មានការ លើកយកនូវរឿងនិទានល្អ​ៗមកអាន​និងបង្ហាញដល់កុមារទាំងអស់ ដើម្បីឱ្យពួកគេ​ចាប់ផ្តើមមាន​គំនិត​ស្រលាញ់និងចូល​ចិត្តអាន​សៀវភៅ ។​ការច្រៀងចម្រៀងផ្សេងៗ ក៏ដូចជាការសម្តែងរឿងជាលក្ខណៈអប់រំ ក៏ត្រូវបានធ្វើឡើងបន្ទាប់ពីមានការនិទាន​រឿងឱ្យពួកគេស្តាប់។​ដើម្បីជាការលើកទឹកចិត្ត និងជំរុញឱ្យពួកគេមានគំនិតស្រលាញ់​ការ​អាន​សៀវភៅ និស្សិតទាំងអស់ក៏​មានជានំចំណី និង​របស់​របរសិស្សាបន្តិចបន្ទួច​សម្រាប់ក្មេងដែលបានចូលរួម។​ ភាពសប្បាយរីករាយ និងស្នាមញញឹមដាក់គ្នាទៅវិញ​ទៅមកយ៉ាងស្និតស្នាល ក៏បានកើតមានឡើងទាំងសម្រាប់អ្នករៀបចំកម្មវិធី ទាំងសម្រាប់អ្នកចូលរួមផងដែរ។

នៅម៉ោងប្រហែលជា៦ល្ងាច រាល់សកម្មភាពនៃការចែករំលែកទាំងអស់ត្រូវបានបញ្ចប់ ដោយបន្សល់ទុកឱ្យអ្នករៀបចំកម្មវិធីម្នាក់ៗ នូវការពេញចិត្តចំពោះសកម្មភាពដែលខ្លួន​បានធ្វើ ដោយហេតុថាវាជាការរួមចំណែកក្នុងការអភិវឌ្ឍសង្គមជាតិ ទោះជាតិចក្តី​ច្រើនក្តី។

​​បន្ទាប់ពីធ្វើសកម្មភាពស្ទើរពេញមួយថ្ងៃរួចមក ពួកយើងទាំងអស់គ្នានិង​លោក​សាស្រ្តា​ចារ្យ​មាន​​ការ​អស់កំលាំង​គ្រប់ៗគ្នា​ប៉ុន្តែ​ពួក​យើង​​ទាំងអស់គ្នាមិនទាន់អាចសំរាកបានទេ​ព្រោះយើងនូវមានកាតព្វកិច្ច​ចុង​ក្រោយ​​សំរាប់​ថ្ងៃនោះគឺការចំអិនអាហារ​ពេលល្ងាច​តាម​ក្រុម​។​ដោយសារតែ​ពួកយើងទាំងអស់គ្នា​បានត្រៀមរួចជា​ស្រេចនូវមុខម្ហូប​និង​គ្រឿងផ្សំនៃម្ហូបទាំងនោះ ពួកយើង បានចាត់ចែងធ្វើម្ហូប​យ៉ាងរហ័ស​រហួនតាមក្រុម​នីមួយៗ​។​

សកម្មភាពក្នុងពេលចំអិនអាហារត្រូវធ្វើឡើងដោយលាយឡំនឹងការសើចសប្បាយរីករាយពីសមាជិកនៃក្រុមនីមួយៗ បានបង្ហាញនូវការចុះសម្រុង​និងការចេះជួយគ្នាទៅវិញ​ទៅមក​ដើម្បីសម្រេចនូវ​គោលបំណងរួមមួយ បើទោះបីជាពួកយើងកំពុងហត់​នឿយ​យ៉ាង​ណា​ក៏ដោយ។​



រយះពេលមួយម៉ោងបានមកដល់ក្រុមនីមួយៗក៏បានធ្វើរួចរាល់នូវមុខម្ហូបដែលពួកគេ បានរៀបចំ។​ក្រុមនីមួយៗបានយកម្ហូបរបស់ពួកគេមក​ដាក់ជុំគ្នារួចអធិប្បាយ​បង្ហាញ​ពី​ម្ហូប​​​តាមក្រុមទៅកាន់សមាជិកនៃក្រុមដទៃទៀត។​ក្រោយពីបញ្ចប់នូវការអធិប្បាយ​មក​ពេល​វេលាដែលពួកយើងទាំងអស់គ្នាទន្ទឹងរង់ចាំបានមកដល់។ ​មុខម្ហូបជាច្រើន​បាន​តម្រៀប​​គ្នា​នៅចំពីមុខពួកយើង។​ដោយភាពអស់កម្លាំងនិងនឿយហត់ ពួកយើងបាន​ញុំា​អាហារ​ទាំងអស់នោះគ្មានសល់ក្នុងរយពេលដ៍ខ្លី។​សំណើចនិងភាពសប្បាយ​រីករាយ​របស់ពួកយើងទាំងអស់គ្នាក៍បានលេច​ឡើងក្នុងពេលកំពុងញុំា​អាហារជុំគ្នា​ផងដែរ។​ក្រោយពេលបញ្ចប់ការញុំាអាហារវាគឺជាពេលដែលពួកយើងទាំងអស់អាចសម្រាកដើម្បីយកកំលាំងសំរាប់សកម្មភាពនៅថ្ងៃស្អែក។​ដោយសារតែការអស់កម្លាំងតាំងពីថ្ងៃ​សមាជិក​ពួក​យើងខ្លះបានលង់លក់យ៉ាងស្កប់ស្កល់ តែអ្នកខ្លះទៀតបានអង្គុយ​និយាយ​គ្នា​​និងលេង​ល្បែងសប្បាយៗ​ជុំគ្នាស្របពេលដែលពួកគេកំពុង​រង់ចាំចូលបន្ទប់​ទឹកដើម្បីងូតទឹកសំអាតខ្លួន។​​រហូតដល់ពេលអាធ្រាត​បន្តិច​ពួក​យើងរៀបចំរួចរាល់អស់​ហើយក៍នាំគ្នាចូល​គេងទាំងអស់គ្នាតែម្តង។​ពេលវេលាគេងរបស់ពួកយើង​គឺពិតជាខ្លីមែនទែន​​បើប្រៀប​ធៀបទៅនឹងពេលធ្វើសកម្មភាព ព្រោះពួកយើង​ត្រូវក្រោក​ពីព្រលឹមរៀបចំខ្លួន​និងញុំា​អាហារពេលព្រឹកអោយ​​បានមុន​ម៉ោង៨ព្រឹក។​បន្ទាប់មកពួកយើងបានជួបជុំគ្នានិយាយអំពីអ្វីដែលយើងទាំងអស់គ្នាទទួលបានក្នុង

កំឡុងពេលដែលពួកយើងធ្វើក្នុងសហគមន៍​រួចពួក​យើង​បានបន្ត​ដំណើរទៅធ្វើ​សកម្មភាព​ចុង​ក្រោយគឺការចាប់ក្តាមនៅវាលស្រែ។​ក្រោយពេលការចាប់ក្តាមបាន បញ្ចប់ពួកយើងក៍បានរួសរាន់​ធ្វើដំណើរ​ត្រលប់មក​ទី​ក្រុង​ភ្នំពេញវិញ​។


ក្រោយពីបានបញ្ចប់នូវសកម្មភាពជួយសហគមន៍របស់ពួកយើង ខ្ញុំអាចយល់បានថាវាគឺជាពេលវេលាដែលមានតម្លៃនិងមានសារសំខាន់បំផុតសំរាប់ខ្ញុំផ្ទាល់ សំរាប់​សហគនម៍ ​​និងសំរាប់សង្គមផងដែរ។​វាគឺជាពេលវេលាមួយ​ដែលអាច​អោ​យ​ខ្ញុំ​បាន​ចែក​​រំលែកនូវចំនេះដឹងដែលខ្ញុំដឹង​និង​ភាព​សប្បាយរីករាយអោយទៅដល់​កុមារាកុមារីតូចៗ​រស់នៅជនបទដាច់ស្រយ៉ាល។​មិនតែប៉ុណ្ណោះក្នុងកំឡុង​ពេលនោះ​ដែរ វាអាចអោយខ្ញុំស្វែងយល់ពីតម្រូវការ​ជីវិតនិងការរស់នៅរបស់​ប្រជាជនក្នុងសហ​គមន៍​នោះ​​ផង​ដែរ។​ចំនុចដែលសំខាន់មួយ​ទៀតនោះគឺអាច​ធ្វើ​​​អោយខ្ញុំដឹងពីការធ្វើអ្វី​ដោយ​ឯករាជ្យ ​​ការចេះ​ជួយទៅវិញទៅមក​ ​និងការសហការគ្នា​យ៉ាង​ល្អដើម្បីសំរេច​នូ​វគោល​ការ​រួម​មួយជា​មួយ​​​គ្នា​។សកម្មភាពចុះសហគមន៍នេះ​គឺ​ជាពេលវេលាដែលខ្ញុំមិន​អាចបំភ្លេចបាន ​និង​ចង់បន្តធ្វើវាជាបន្តបន្ទាប់នៅពេលអនាគត។

សកម្មភាពនោះវាមិនត្រឹមតែមានតម្លៃសម្រាប់ខ្ញុំនោះទេ តែវាក៍មានតំលៃសំរាប់​សហគមន៍​នោះផ្ទាល់ផងដែរ ព្រោះថាវាអាចធ្វើអោយមានភាព​កាន់តែជិតស្និត​រវាង​ប្រជាជន រស់នៅក្នុងសហគមន៍ដាច់ស្រយ៉ាល​និងប្រជាជនទីក្រុង​។ក្រៅពីនោះពួកគេ​ទាំងអស់គ្នាក៍អាចទទួលបាននូវពត៌មានផ្សេងៗអំពីទីក្រុង​និងអាច​បង្ហាញប្រាប់ពួក​យើងវិញ​នូវ​តម្រូវការ​របស់​ពួកគេដល់យើងទាំងអស់គ្នាផងដែរ។

លើសពីនោះទៅទៀតសង្គមក៍នឹងអាចទទួលបាននូវការអភិវឌ្ឍន៍ដោយសារសកម្មភាពរបស់ពួកយើងដែរ ​ព្រោះថាសង្គមបានទទួលនូវការយកចិត្ត​ទុកដាក់ពីសំណាក់​យុវជនខ្មែរដែលជាទំពាំងស្នងឬស្សី។​ពួកយើងអាចបង្ហាញ​អោយសង្គមដឹងពី​ផលិត​ផល​​ដែលប្រជាជនមាន​និង​តម្រូវការរបស់ប្រជាជន​​ក្នុងសហគមន៍នោះ ដូច្នេះសង្គម​នឹង ចាត់វិធាន​ការជាមួយនិង​សហគមន៍យ៉ាងល្អ។​វាក៍ជាវិធីដែលផ្សាភ្ជាប់ទំនាក់ទំនង​រវាងសង្គមនិង​សហគមន៍តាមតំបន់ដាច់​ស្រយ៉ាលឱ្យកាន់តែ​មានភាពជិតស្និត មិនមានគម្លាតឆ្ងាយដាច់ពីគ្នាពេកនោះដែរ។

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English text by: Dara Saoyuth
Khmer text by: Dareth Rosaline

“Until Today” reported by DAP-News

On the same day of the press conference launch of documentary, the event itself is reported on DAP-news website. Below is the original post from the website as well as the web link. Cheers,

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  • Link of the article to the original post, CLICK HERE
By: Dara Saoyuth

Libraries a brilliant learning resource


Library / by: LIFT magazine

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go,” said Dr. Seuss, an American writer and cartoonist best known for his collection of children’s books.  The poem I Can Read with My Eyes Shut was intended to demonstrate the benefits of reading.

The poem may not resonate that much in Cambodia, where reading rates are low compared to foreign averages – especially those of Americans, who always seem to travel with a book in hand. Laziness and illiteracy are often offered as explanations for the lack of a strong reading culture here.

But from my perspective, as a Cambodian who has lived in this country for almost 20 years, I figure the resources and opportunities afforded the average Cambodian may also have something to do with it.

Libraries are usually considered vast reservoirs of written knowledge, but how many Cambodians can truly access this invaluable resource?

In this article, we’ll discuss reasons preventing and discouraging Cambodian students from accessing libraries.

The first, and most important, reason is that the number of libraries in the Kingdom cannot fulfil the public’s demand.

Those living in remote areas don’t even have libraries in their village schools.

According to the website of Working for Children (WFC), a registered, non-profit charity committed to assisting at-risk children living in rural communities within Siem Reap province, “Most of the rural village schools need libraries. Some schools create makeshift libraries out of an unused classroom, while others keep books in boxes or bags.”

The website also notes that this problem often occurs in recently built schools that need to develop more.

Clearly, schools without a library need one.  Even school with libraries rarely have librarians, often because they  have only a handful of teachers as it is.

A primary school in my home town has been able to build a nice library with government and NGO support, but students hardly have a chance to access it because the door is usually locked.

The school has hired no librarians and the teachers are all busy, so the school director is forced to act as librarian when he gets a free moment, which is not often.

Having a teacher or school director working as librarian creates another barrier to accessing the library.  As they already bear a responsibility to teach or manage the school, they may not want the students to read or borrow books because this creates more work –– sorting, lending and shelving – for them.

Librarians’ knowledge and attitude are also important. They should be friendly and eager to help students find the documents they need.

The opposite was true when I was in high school.  I used to be scolded just for asking whether the library had a particular book.

Libraries should also update their documents regularly.  This is not a huge issue for primary or high-school students, but students in university must be able to access the latest readings for their research.

In some libraries, most of the books are outdated because most are donated by foreign countries and little money is spent on buying new books.  In a bookshop, study materials are always updated because patrons are spending money on them.

Opening hours can also be a limiting factor for student library access.  Though some libraries have begun extending librarians’ working hours to attract more readers, others maintain a schedule that conflicts with the students’ classes.  So, for example, libraries will shut their doors during lunch breaks and at weekends – the times when students are free to use them.

Some students also complain about regulations requiring them to wear uniforms whenever they enter the library.  This poses the question: which is more important, wearing a uniform or gaining knowledge?

Some people go out for the day without planning to go to the library, but if in their free time they suddenly want to go, they will be denied access for lack of a uniform.

Comfort is also essential, and if a library intends to attract patrons, it should, at the very least, have a place where students can sit comfortably, with good lighting and no   distracting noise.

LIFT interviewed Dr Ros Chantrabot, a writer as well as acting vice-president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, about Cambodian literature and literacy.

“I don’t think Cambodian youth do not appreciate reading.  The main point is that Cambodians don’t have enough reading resources.”

I think it will take time to change the reading habits of the average Cambodian.

Based on what Ros Chantrabot said, I’d say the first step is to extend the availability of resources by building more school libraries, and improving the facilities of those already in existence.

By: Dara Saoyuth
This article was published on LIFT, Issue 76 published on June 22, 2011

My interview with Radio Australia

Yesterday, I was interviewed by Radio Australia in a topic related to DMC batch 08 video production as well as today press conference of the documentary launching. I’ve attached the full interview clip below for you as a fan of Student Blog. Cheers,

By: Dara Saoyuth

Invitation to the press conference launch of documentary

To whom it may concern:

Department of Media and Communication of Royal University of Phnom Penh is pleased to invite all the press and related institutions to the press conference on the launching of our students’ production of documentaries titled “Until Now.”

The press conference will be conducted on Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 9am in the Department of Media and Communication with the honor present of H.E. Khieu Kanharith, Minister of Ministry of Information.

Please find the attached press releases in Khmer and English for more information.

Media Advisory

What:  Release of new video documentary “Until Now: Outgrowing the Shadow of Democratic Kampuchea.”

When:  Wednesday, 22 June 2011, 9:00am

Where:  Department of Media & Communication, RUPP (IFL Campus)

Who:   Filmmakers from the Department of Media & Communication and distinguished panel speakers.

For more information please contact Mr. Dara Saoyuth
Mobile: 012 832 008

P.S. Please confirm if you can come.

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Finished design project

I’ve attached our final designs here, so please enjoy and feel free to share your comment for future improvement!

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Besides from writing, designing is what I’d like to do in my free time. Recently, my friend and I had been assigned to work on a design project that we just managed to finish this afternoon.

Being year 3 students at the Department of Media and Communication, we all have to join a group of two people to shoot a short documentary under varied themes. This year, we all worked under the theme related to Khmer Rouge Regime called “Until Now”. There are only 19 students in our batch 8th, so 9 films were produced and also brought to screen in 3 provinces in the Kingdom: Siem Reap, Battambang, and Kampot.

From those screening, we received plenty of comments and suggestions from our audiences and at some points, we’ve decided to cut or add more visual footage.

These films are also needed a DVD case with Cover Design, Label, and description paper. This come to our task!

My friend, Lang Mesa, and I was assigned to responsible for designing and doing PR tasks. Though we had some hard times changing design layouts according to classmates and lecturer’s taste, we really enjoy it and also feel that we’ve learnt more from this project.

By: Dara Saoyuth

Constructive Cambodian: Cambodian local investment

When you enter a store in Cambodia, how do you decide between local and foreign products? Foreigners might choose products from their countries, but, surprisingly, most Cambodians also decide to choose foreign products.

Many reasons contribute to this situation, but the major one is Cambodians’ perception of local products.

Volume two of Cambodian Commodity Chain Analysis Study, a publication by COSECAM and Plan Cambodia, suggests that negative perceptions by consumers that Cambodian products are of poor quality relative to imported products from Thailand and Vietnam is one of the barriers to the industry growth.

According to an article published in January, 2010 on the website of Louie-Thomas, a Vietnamese/European family-run company that focuses on making boutique products, the overall worth of Vietnamese products consumed in Cambodia is US$988 million.

Vietnam’s major exports to Cambodia include instant noodles, plastic products, tobacco, confectionery, seed corn, household products and vegetables.

The 71-page-publication of COSECAM and Plan Cambodia mentioned above also said that while the perception that Cambodian goods are of lesser quality is often accurate, some products are still successfully competing well against imports due to the fact that at the local level, they are better able to meet consumer taste requirements and have a competitive advantage.

If the above statement is true that local products better meet local consumer tastes, you might ask why many people still do not use local products.

But if you pause a bit and think about the prices of the products, you will see that some of the same kinds of products have different prices between the imported and local versions, and usually the imported products have low prices because production costs in Cambodia are a bit higher.

With reportedly 30 percent of the population living on less than two dollars a day, I’m sure that Cambodians will select the cheaper one available.

Another reason causing Cambodian products to not get support from local consumers is weaknesses in marketing.

Since Cambodian advertising and marketing industries have just emerged, the concept of promoting products is not very developed, unlike in other countries. Watching advertising spots of local products and foreign products, and you’ll see the difference. Some local companies don’t even have enough money to produce spots and advertise through media for a long period compared to foreign products. As a result, some local products remain unknown in the heart of Cambodians.

Some negative aspects might arise if Cambodians continue to not support their local products. First of all, the local company might face bankruptcy because of lack of support. Also, we will spend a lot of money on other countries’ products while only a little for local ones. As a consequence, Cambodia will have no local strong brand to compete for the regional, as well as the international, audience and that will affect imports and exports as well.

For example, according to the US Department of State website, in 2009, the amount we received from exporting goods was only $3.9 billion, while the money we spent on imports was $5.4 billion.

One more thing is that the current situation might discourage graduated students from investing in industrial business because they realise that no matter how good the quality of the goods is, it’s still hard to convince Cambodians to use their local products. As a result, a lot of human resources end up working as staffers for foreign-brand companies in Cambodia because they think it’s more stable than opening a business on their own.

Nowadays, young people tend to start running businesses, but mostly businesses related to services, such as opening a hotel, a restaurant or an internet café rather than opening a business to produce local products.

However, there are some positive signs that some institutions are working to promote local products.

In 2009, for example, the PRASAC micro-finance institution sponsored a campaign to buy Cambodian products, and the website has been created to promote Khmer products. The Cambodian government has tried to promote Khmer products by establishing the One Village One Product (OVOP) National Committee.

As stated on the committee’s website, OVOP is a concept to make products of high quality.

So, if Cambodians begin using local products, and institutions work together to promote Khmer products – for example, by creating more frequent local product exhibitions – producers will try to improve their quality, the economics will improve and the young generation will have more jobs and more chances to use their skills.

By: Dara Saoyuth
This article was published on LIFT, Issue 75 published on June 14, 2011
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