National Historical Commission
To ensure that history is not lost, warped, or censured, we propose the establishment of an informal National Historical Commission on Genocide Prevention in Cambodia. We will leverage our relationships with independent and credible researchers, undergraduate and graduate students, former teachers, survivors, and civil parties of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to build loosely established, informal organizations covering the north, south, east, and western regions of Cambodia. Under Documentation Center of Cambodia oversight, participants will work together to collect interviews and historical documents from their local community as it relates to the history of the area and in particular the Khmer Rouge regime. They will summarize their research and provide reports that will be incorporated into regional historical collections, as presented at an annual researchers’ conference, which will then be reviewed, edited, and provided to Cambodian and foreign scholars for further peer review before publication. There will be three conferences in total: The first conference will kick-off the project and provide initial training; the second conference will report on findings; and the third conference will provide final reports and discussions on sustainability. In the last 18 months of the grant period, portions of the peer-reviewed history will be presented at 18 different locations in public education forums, which will be attended by the local community and students, as well as 9 different pre-service teacher training centers.
We will continue to provide training for pre-service teachers (teachers-soon-to be) focusing on history. The Pre-Service Teacher Training’s at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) Regional Training Centers are designed to enhance the ability of pre-service teachers to teach the history of Democratic Kampuchea using a variety of teaching approaches. The training’s have a dual focus of developing the teachers’ understanding of the history as well as facilitating their capacity in student-centered learning approaches.
The training’s (7 full days) encompass lecture, group discussion, and practical exercise, with a particular emphasis on having the teachers practice their use/delivery of the Democratic Kampuchea history educational materials with peers.
The curriculum is designed by Documentation Center of Cambodia and approved/mandated by MOEYS for use in all Cambodian lower and upper secondary schools from 7-12 graders, who make up approximately two third of all Cambodians. Under this component, we have also included public education forums and the installation of genocide education memorials. Both activities complement each other insofar as the public education forum uses informal learning models to discuss themes from the Khmer Rouge genocide, and the genocide education memorials serve as permanent community reminders of the country’s past. The memorials feature inspiring statements in Khmer and they stand as reminders of the importance of memory, peace education, and the prevention of the circumstances that led to horrors of the Democratic Kampuchea period. They will read: (1) “Talking about experiences during the DK regime promotes reconciliation and educates children about forgiveness and tolerance;” and (2) “Learning about the history of Democratic Kampuchea is to prevent future violence.”
Finally, we have included a complementary activity related to the comparison of mass atrocities in history. While nearly every Cambodian has some understanding of the Holocaust, there is little understanding of (and even less formal education on) mass atrocities from other countries and cultures. This activity will involve the development and publication of a study on various mass atrocities in history, which will complement both formal and informal learning activities on history, human rights, and concepts associated with the rule of law. The aim of this activity is to publish these materials for use in classrooms and community education projects.