National Assembly President Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin presided over a groundbreaking ceremony for the extension of a high school in Ponhea Krek district in Thbong Khmum province on Friday.
The groundbreaking for a new two-storey building with 12 classrooms took place in Anlong Chrey village in Kak commune where Samdech Heng Samrin was born in 1934.
Funded by the National Assembly president and his wife Sao Ty, who still maintain a house in the village, the new building is scheduled to be completed in 15 months.
In an address to more than 800 students, teachers and guests, Samdech Heng Samrin recalled that there were no schools in the region when he was growing up.
“It was a remote area with no roads and was full of forests bordering Vietnam.”
“Some were educated in this area, usually boys who tried hard to study but the girls were illiterate,” he said, adding that boys who wanted to study were taught by monks at the local village temple. “We spent about a month learning how to read consonants.”
“After the American bombing of the area in 1964, there were officials who joined the military to build houses for local people,” the National Assembly president said.
He added that he and another man worked as volunteer teachers around this time as a new school in neighbouring Krabao commune was hard to access through the forest.
Samdech Heng Samrin said he built the first primary school in Anlong Chrey in 1985, when he was serving as president of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea.
It was initially staffed by volunteer teachers who were provided housing nearby and upgraded to a high school in 2006 following the addition of two new buildings.
In his closing remarks, Samdech Heng Samrin urged the students to “love the environment” and stressed the importance of promoting greenery by planting trees around the school.
“It’s important to fulfill the needs of children to study,” he said.
In his memoirs published in 2013, Samdech Heng Samrin recalled that the bombing in 1964 involved two airstrikes, with the first wave coming in the late afternoon as villagers were returning from their fields.
“At least 12 people were killed and many others injured in this first airstrike on Anlong Chrey by American and South Vietnamese forces,” he wrote.
“Houses were destroyed and a lot of cattle, pigs, chickens and ducks killed.”
“Around 9:00 the next morning, a second strike came. The village was still in chaos as the Americans and South Vietnamese flew over in six helicopters and several planes, firing shots and dropping bombs. Numerous government soldiers were killed or injured.”
“Only a metre from the trench where I was sheltering, a coconut tree was hit by a rocket and exploded into pieces.”
Source: Agency Kampuchea Press