CIVICUS Cambodia CIVICUS: Center for Cambodian Civic Education ("CIVICUS Cambodia") is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational, non-governmental organization registered with the Cambodian Ministry of Interior dedicated to promoting an enlightened and responsible citizenry committed to democratic principles and actively engaged in the practice of democracy and reconciliation in Cambodia and the larger, globalized world.
Up to now, Cambodia has had only a society of "subjects" and “survivors”, not of “representatives” nor “citizens”. We have been "subjects" of colonialism and the monarchy; the Khmer Rouge made us "survivors". Cambodians as survivors are either “survivor-authoritarian” if the person is in a position of power or “survivor-subject” if the common person.
Since 1991, the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) made us "citizens" on paper and the focus since has been on the "human rights" and less on the "civic responsibilities" of citizenship. The target of these human rights education have been with the adult population and less with the young.
CIVICUS Cambodia defines a "citizen" as a Cambodian who possesses both rights and responsibilities, and our focus starts with young children in educating them not only of their inherent rights but of their civic responsibilities to each other, as well as engage with rest of the population to inform and encourage them on exercising meaningful citizenship.
The principal goals of CIVICUS Cambodia are to help Cambodian citizens develop:
(i) an increased understanding of the institutions of Cambodian constitutional democracy and the fundamental principles and values upon which they are founded;
(ii) a dialogue as a normal means of communication, especially for peace-building and reconciliation;
(iii) the skills necessary to participate as effective and responsible citizens; and
(iv) the willingness and ease to use democratic procedures for making decisions and managing conflicts.
CIVICUS Cambodia gives a special emphasis to:
(i) students—from elementary to university level— and the generation born after the Khmer Rouge era;
(ii) females (both girls and women); and
(iii) elected representatives.
. . . . .
Historical Overview of the Problems relating to Education and Reconciliation in Current-day Cambodia:
* Language and National Identity: Cambodia by Dr. Steve Heder (Oxford University Press, 2007)
** A Language in Crisis (Commentary by CIVICUS Cambodia president Theary Seng), Aug. 2011
1. 90 Years of French Colonialism Mummified Cambodia (1863-1953)
The Cambodian Scene
(Introduction excerpt, The Pol Pot Regime by Ben Kiernan, Yale University1996)
...Yet the country had already undergone major transformations by the middle of the twentieth century. Under French colonial rule from 1863, traditional Cambodian intellectual institutions, such as Buddhist pagoda schools, had severely declined, but the authorities provided no modern education system to take their place. By 1954 elementary schools enrolled only a small proportion of school-age children. A full secondary education only became available in the country from 1933, and only 144 Cambodians had completed the baccalaureat [high school] by 1954. The number in secondary schools was fewer than three thousand. Cambodia had no tertiary education at all. In the 1940s, the tasks of modern nationalism, and even communist organizing, fell to those with a traditional, religious education...
Statistics of Education (1931-52)
2. The Sihanouk Years (1954-70)
3. Civil War during Lon Nol's Khmer Republic (1970-75)
4. The Khmer Rouge Genocide (1975-79)
5. Vietnamese Occupation (1979-91)
6. United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia 1991-93
7. Fragile Democracy under Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (since 1993)
- Youth Knowledge of Democracy Lacking: Survey (VOA, 21 July 2011)
- UN study shows Cambodia's youth failing to take part in civic life" (DPA, 21 July 2011)
- New study highlights status of youth civic participation in Cambodia (UNDP Press Release, 21 July 2011)