Saturday, April 23, 2011

Speech at the Official Inauguration of “Phnom Penh Thmey School for Blind and Deaf Children” at Sangkat Phnom Penh Thmey, Khan Sen Sok

Phnom Penh, 6 April 2011

Your Venerable Monks,
Excellencies, Lok Chumteav Members of the Senate, the National Assembly and the Royal Government,
Excellencies, Ladies, Ambassadors, National and International Guests,
Mr. Benoît Duchâteau-Arminjon, founder of Krousar Thmey Foundation
Dear Teachers, Students and Compatriots!

At the outset, on behalf of the Royal Government, my wife and myself, it is my great pleasure to be here with Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, teachers and compatriots, blind and deaf children and orphans for the “Official Inauguration of Phnom Penh Thmey School for Blind and Deaf Children“, which is an outstanding achievement accomplished under the cooperation between the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation and the Krousar Thmey Foundation; and it is a gift of Krousar Thmey Foundation for the traditional New Year occasion, Rabbit Year Buddhist Ear (BE) 2555 that is coming soon. In this grand occasion, I would like to take this opportunity to express my admiration and high valuation to the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation for having cooperating with the Krousar Thmey Foundation, ministries-institutions, local authorities and donors for successful implementation of Phnom Penh Thmey School for Blind and Deaf Children until it is officially inaugurated today. I would like express my warm welcome to Mr. Benoît Duchâteau-Arminjon, founder of Krousar Thmey Foundation, and thank you for this remarkable gift.

The inauguration ceremony of this school for blind and deaf children today is another important event of social affairs sectors, especially for the disabled in Cambodia. This school is another new achievement resulted from the hard-work of Mr. Benoît Duchâteau-Arminjon, founder of the foundation, and all members of Krousar Thmey Foundation, who have taken part in human resource development, especially in the protection and promotion of the rights of the disabled by providing education services to disabled children in Cambodia. This is the evidence, showing the fruit of the cooperation between the Royal Government and the development partners, non-governmental organizations in addressing the disability issues and better promoting education sector for disabled children with the aim to help the disabled children receive necessary needs, in particular the need for education, that are in line with “Education for All”, and ensure the implementation of the four rights of children: the right to life, the right to protection, the right to development, and the right to participation.

Based on the speech delivered by of H.E Ith Som Heng, Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, and the speech of Mr. Benoît Duchâteau-Arminjon, founder of Krousar Thmey foundation, I would like to express the admiration and high valuation for this remarkable mission with good willingness, and to the humanity of the Krousar Thmey Foundation for setting up special education programs such as special education classes, mixed education classes, integration classes and the professional care given to children in the center to assist the blind children, deaf children and vulnerable children in Cambodia, and accomplished many achievements.

We all know very well that Cambodia has come across wars and genocidal regime, resulting in many difficult consequences, in particular the high rate of the disabled if compared to other countries in the region. At the same time, demining accidents, unexploded ammunitions, traffic accidents, work accidents, nutritional deficiency, mild illnesses and disability caused by other reasons also have increased the number of disabled children.

After the liberation day, 7 January 1979, in the rehabilitation process of the country from scratch even facing many difficulties, the Royal Government of Cambodia has always placed importance on the welfare of the people, in particular the welfare of the children. Now, Cambodia is moving firmly forward with confidence and certainty including institutional development and the strengthening of ownership. The economic growth in the past few years has increased substantially; a number of sectors have strongly progressed such as agriculture, industry, tourism, construction, infrastructure constructions etc. Along with this, social affairs, education, health, rural development, gender mainstreaming, children’s welfare, the disabled, veterans, government retirees, the old aged sectors have also been given priority through the increase in national budget for them every year.

The Royal Government has given attention to the increased intervention in social affairs sector, veterans and youth rehabilitation, which aim to promote job opportunity, reduce the vulnerability of the poor, increase the activities of emergency assistance to help people being suffered from natural disasters and other calamities, expand the rehabilitation program for the disabled, continue to provide strong support and assistance to the disabled soldiers and the families of soldiers and ex-soldiers, who sacrificed their lives for the cause of national defense and to improve welfare program for the disabled, the elderly, disabled children, orphanage children, victimized women and vagabond. At the same time, the Royal Government has built thousand of schools spreading around the countries and implemented special education program for disabled children by creating special, consolidated, and integrated classes to create foundation for the development of national education system.

In actuality, the current objective of the Royal Government is to shorten students’ travelling period from home to school, by building schools closer to residential area and creating a special education system to meet the demand of the disabled children. I think that this policy would reduce drop-out rate of students in rural area and make it easily accessible for school-aged children enrollment, including the disabled children. Moreover, the Royal Government has further paid attention to the welfare of our citizen, orphans and child care through the creation of disease prevention program and reduction of orphans and child disease; diarrhea; respiration bronchitis; stunning; iodized deficiency, vitamin C shortage and nutritional deficiency; HIV and AIDS infection and youth rehabilitation ...etc Furthermore, the Royal Government has also taken serous measures through Five Year National Plan in order to combat and eliminate the trafficking of women and children, promote the practice of laws and international rules and regulations, and to increase further cooperation with neighboring countries and other counties in the region in order to effectively combat exploitation on children and all forms of violence, in particular the disabled children. In this spirit, the Royal Government has strong commitment to take necessary measures to prevent and combat all forms of exploitation on children and the disabled, including illegal employment of child labor, child prostitution and trafficking and non-employed children in armed conflict, neglect of the disabled children, immoral acts, and exploitation on children and the abuse on the disabled.

The Royal Government has promoted the provision of service to vulnerable children, homeless and poor family’s children. 11, 945 Homeless Children have been taken care by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, other non-government organizations and that of 4, 884 children have been taken care at the local community. The Royal Government has also paid attention to homeless children, disabled and a small group of family who like to live on the street in Phnom Penh and other towns. Those disabled families and children are subject to the vulnerability or face other social issues such as health problem, uncertain future, drug use, AIDs infection, prostitution, acts of gang and unsettled living. At the same time, the Royal Government introduced law and regulation, aiming at improving the rights to protect and increase the benefit for the disabled. Moreover, the Royal Government has broadened structure and activities of the Cambodian National Council for Children at the national and sub-national level and related ministries-institutions to facilitate and consult on the disabled issues. Along with that, the implementation of policy to take care of children and increase child protection network at the community has also been paid attention.

Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government, I would like to appreciate Mr. Benoît Duchâteau-Arminjon, the founder of Krousar Thmei Organization, for cooperating with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and for making remarkable achievements, including Chba Am Pov School for Mute and Deaf Children, School for Blind, Mute and Deaf Children in Battambang, Siem Reap, Kampong Cham, Phnom Penh Thmey, where we now are inaugurating. Admirable humanity activities have clearly reflected your care on providing support to Cambodian children and integration through special education program for blind and deaf children, provision of service and assistance to meet the need of children who have been neglected, homeless, children being suffered from trafficking and the development of culture and khmer art to enable them to fully participate in social activities, by giving them access to basic education, leading them to have brighter future career. The established education system is consistent to national education system under welfare and safe environment. Through this system, blind and vulnerable children are accessible to education, professional training and the rights protection to shape their future direction to better live in their community.

Based on this perspective, I strongly believe that the program of Krou Sa Thmey truly helps the blind and vulnerable children to peacefully attend school and get warm care from your mothers and teachers, who are taking care of you all, to bright your future. In this regard, the Royal Government will continuously support and closely cooperate with Krousar Thmey Organization to strengthen, expand programs and improve this education system, in particular for blind and deaf children to be better, aiming to develop education and welfare of Cambodian children.

Taking this opportunity, I would like the Ministry of Social Works, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Various Ministries-Institutions and Sub-national Administrations to continue good cooperation with Krousar Thmei Organization, strengthen and expand the programs to be more efficient and sustainable in order to enhance the welfare and four basic rights of children aiming to contribute to poverty reduction of the people based on the Political Platform and Rectangular Strategy-Phase II of the Royal Government and try to make laws such as Law on unlawful person, Law on Children’s Welfare and preparing other legal documents in order to effectively implement the laws that have been adopted already. At the same time, I would like to suggest all ministries-institutions to pay high attention to a number of works as follows:

First: must disseminate and well implement the rights of the disabled by all means in order to reduce and eliminate the discrimination against the disabled people, especially disabled children.

Second: the Ministry of Health must continue boosting the birth defect prevention program through the creation of program for health and sanitation education and the prevention of disability.

Third: the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation must promote the implementation of the law on the protection and promotion of the disabled’ rights to be more effective, must continue to further strengthen and expand all kinds of welfare service of the disabled in order to promote the integration of disabled into the society without obstacles, must cooperate with related ministries-institutions and partner organization, promoting the implementation of the Braille system service, sign language for eye disabled, mute and deaf, try to research and insert this service into the information technology in order to serve the living and academic needs of this kind of disabled. Along with that, we have to pay further attention to collect data and evaluate the disabled women and children as I have recommended, so far, during the meeting of the National Council for Women and Children.

Fourth: the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports must promote the implementation of law on education, especially the special education from the rights of disabled’ education in learning with other general students in the normal program and the special education program for disabled students. At the same time, we must try our utmost to solve the language translation for the translation of Braille letters and sign letters at higher education in order to provide opportunity to disabled students to pursue their higher education.

Fifth: the Ministry of Information must continue encouraging the state-owned and private TV stations to further expand more sign language programs. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my deepest thank to a number of stations, that have paid attention to the creation of programs for disabled people such as information program, entertainment program, disabled sport program as Bayon TV, CTN and Apsara TV Stations and others have already created a number of programs.

Sixth: the Ministry of Social Works, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport must prepare legal documents in order to define the technicality in movement of the disabled in public spaces and institutions in order to facilitate them in moving to participate in various activities appropriately.

Seventh: the Ministry of Works and Vocational Training must cooperate with the Ministry of Social Works, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation in creating the vocation training program and job creation for the disabled.

Eighth: All levels of Sub-national authorities must incorporate the issue of disability into the development plan in each class; especially they have to pay attention to the poor disabled in each locality.

Before ending, I would like to appeal to civil servants, teachers as well as all parents and staffs, who are serving in the schools for disabled, mute and deaf people, to try their greatest efforts to feed, take care and educate the disable children and our vulnerable children in order to maintain their gentle personality, good morality, respectfulness, and follow the advices of teachers, study hard with higher knowledge in order to become “good child, good student, good friend and good citizen” in the future.

At the same time, I would like to appeal to related ministries-institutions and local authorities to pose favorable conditions to the operation of Krousar Thmei Organization and School of Eye disabled, Mute and Deaf Children in the Kingdom of Cambodia to move on smoothly with the spirit of solidarity and good cooperation in order to be the best interest of Cambodian disabled and vulnerable children.

At the end, I would like to wish the Krousar Thmei Organization and all Donors the constant progress. I wish Mr. Benoît Duchâteau-Arminjon, founder of the Krousar Thmei Organization, Donors of the Organization and all Colleagues the best of health and success in their duties.

Together with the Official Inauguration of the Phnom Penh Thmey School for Blind and Deaf Children and for the occasion of coming Khmer New Year of Rabbit, I would like to wish the Venerable Monks, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Teachers, Students and Disabled Children and all Compatriots the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

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