Kong You, a 74-year-old man, has spent the last 43 years of his life teaching the children of Ka’am Samnor commune in Kandal province’s Loeuk Dek district for free because he wanted them all to be literate and educated.
“I began teaching in 1979 because I was worried that the future generation would be illiterate because in the Pol Pot era they could not learn. The children were not educated for four years, so I came up with the notion to make things right – to provide free education to the children,” You stated.
After the Khmer Rouge were overthrown in 1979, when You was around 33 or 34 years old, he would hold classes by lamplight in the evenings after a day of farming, tearing up pieces of paper to use for teaching.
He currently teaches poor children in three villages – Reang Chuor, Ka’am Samnor Leur, and Ka’am Samnor Krom – as well as children from other villages who wish to study.
You, who completed Grade 7, said that he is currently teaching kindergarten to Grade 5 at the elementary level.
“Some parents will offer me a snack or a small bit of money as a gift while I teach for free.” He remarked, “I gladly accept if they kindly offer, but I don’t accept anything as payment – it’s great if they don’t give me anything at all.”
You said he wanted to contribute by teaching the children so they might become civil servants and give back to the community because there were many illiterate people in the village.
He said that some of his students had gone on to become government servants, and that they had praised him and presented him with gifts for his efforts in effectively teaching them.
He teaches three classes a day with nearly 30 students in each class, from 6-7 a.m. to roughly 11:30 a.m and from 4 p.m every day except Sunday or when he is too busy.
Source: The Phnompenh Post