Cambodia lets students go back to school

High school students in Phnom Penh will be able to return to school from September 15, when Cambodia is close to meeting its goal of vaccinating both adults and children.

This is the first time since February, about 140,000 students in the capital Phnom Penh have directly attended public and private schools certified by the Cambodian Ministry of Education for safety.

All teachers and school staff are required to undergo rapid testing before returning to school. According to local media, 24 out of more than 10,000 people tested positive. Students and staff are also required to present a certificate of immunization before entering the school, where face coverings are mandatory.

Elsewhere around the country, schools in areas with low infection rates are also welcoming back students. Neang Bein, a 10th grader at a high school in Svay Rieng province in eastern Cambodia, said he was eager to return to normal studies after months of headaches and backaches caused by online learning.

A school employee in Phnom Penh, Cambodia received a Covid-19 vaccine in April. Photo: Reuters.

A school employee in Phnom Penh, Cambodia received a Covid-19 vaccine in April. Photo: Reuters.

“I’m excited to go to school, meet teachers and friends. I can’t remember the last time at school,” the female student said.

Schools in Cambodia are reopened thanks to the country’s rapid vaccination campaign, although Covid-19 cases still increase with the total number of infections surpassing 100,000 and deaths reaching 2,000.

The Cambodian government aims to immunize 10 million adults and two million children aged 12 to 18. As of the end of last week, more than 8.5 million adults had received two shots and 1.1 million were waiting for a second shot. More than 1.7 million teenagers 12-18 years old have had at least one shot, and more than half of them have had two.

Cambodia receives several batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX program led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and more than one million doses of Johnson & Johnson from the US. However, the majority of Cambodia’s vaccines, which account for more than 26.8 million doses, come from China.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pledged last week to provide three million more doses during a visit to Phnom Penh. He also pledged $270 million in aid and inaugurated a new stadium built with a $150 million grant from China.

The extra dose of vaccine will boost Cambodia’s booster vaccination campaign. Currently, more than 780,000 people, including Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife, have received the third injection.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, schools in Cambodia have been closed for more than 200 days, facing even stricter restrictions than restaurants, bars and businesses. Prime Minister Hun Sen late last month urged rural schools to resume face-to-face instruction, noting that rural children face technology difficulties when learning online and will suffer a lot from this form of learning. this.

“We need to act wisely, flexibly and manage the situation well so that we can accelerate the development of the country, especially promote human resource training. Otherwise, our children will give up. learn, even forget the alphabet,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday announced that he will start immunizing children between the ages of 6 and 12 on September 17 so that primary schools can reopen.

Huyen Le (Follow Nikkei Asia)

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