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PM Directs Ministry of Education to Permit Schools to Suspend Classes in Case of Overheating

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — In a decisive move addressing the ongoing heatwave, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet has instructed the Ministry of Education to allow schools the flexibility to suspend classes during periods of extreme heat. This directive, issued on April 30, 2024, targets the protection of students from the harsh conditions that have recently plagued the region.

During a meeting at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port on May 1, 2024, Prime Minister Hun Manet expressed concern over the severe impact of the heat on students, particularly the younger ones. He relayed troubling observations of students resorting to extreme measures such as placing cold, water-soaked towels on their heads for hours to cope with the heat. "On hot days, the board should suspend [classes] and let the students rest. It is not beneficial to force small children to sit in such unfavorable and very hot conditions," he stated.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s order, Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron outlined new guidelines in a communication to the Directors of the Capital-Provincial Department of Education, Youth, and Sports. Effective immediately, schools are encouraged to adjust their schedules, commencing classes early at 7 am and concluding by 10 am, with afternoon sessions running from 2 pm to 5 pm. Moreover, schools now possess the autonomy to cancel classes if temperatures escalate to unmanageable levels.

The necessity for such measures stems by climate change, which has severely impacted daily life and educational activities across Cambodia. Current meteorological data indicate that the nation is experiencing a low-pressure system, resulting in temperatures ranging from 26 to 39 degrees Celsius.

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