Cambodian schoolchildren are taught that 3.3 million people were killed under the 1975-1979 Democratic Kampuchea regime (most scholars place the number at around 1.7 million). But the Royal Government of Cambodia, which prepares school texts, has done surprisingly little to educate people born after the regime about the genocide. For example, the entire 9th grade text on the regime for the year 2000 reads: From April 25 to April 27, 1975, the Khmer Rouge leaders held an extraordinary Congress in order to form a new Constitution, and renamed the country “Democratic Kampuchea.” A new government of the DK, led by Pol Pot, came into existence after which Cambodian people were massacred. By 2002, coverage of the regime had disappeared from junior and senior high school texts (the section on modern history was torn out as a result of an intra-government dispute over the treatment of the 1993 elections). No new texts were published in 2003 or 2004.
With the passage of time, both the leaders of the Khmer Rouge and its victims are growing older. Without a concerted effort, students of this and future generations may know little – if anything – about the history of Democratic Kampuchea. Cambodia’s many pressing developmental needs have meant that the Ministry of Education’s resources are stretched thin (few teachers are properly trained on teaching such sensitive but critical subjects as genocide). Thus, the Ministry has sought DC-Cam’s assistance in providing supplementary text on the Khmer Rouge and other educational materials related to genocide. This project will seek to enhance the capabilities of teachers and the Ministry of Education to convey the regime’s history through the provision of ideas, materials, recommendations on curricula, a short text on Democratic Kampuchea, and a collection of survivors’ stories.