Cambodian officials visit Hiroshima elementary school to learn about peace education

by Tomomitsu Miyazaki, Senior Staff Writer

Seven officials from the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport visited Hesaka Elementary School, located in Higashi Ward, Hiroshima, to observe classes which use the peace education program pursued by the board of education of the A-bombed city. They were invited to Japan by the Hiroshima prefectural government, the first group in a project which seeks to improve education in Cambodia in order to create a more sustainable society.

At Hesaka Elementary School, the Cambodian officials observed a sixth-grade classroom. Students were divided into groups of four to discuss the theme of a “peaceful community.” First, the students presented ideas to the class that they had heard from family members and people in their communities: “Children can play outside safely”; “There aren’t any conflicts”; “There are no crimes and no accidents.” Then, in their groups, they discussed their own image of a “peaceful community” and presented these thoughts to the class.

Mayumi Furukawa, the classroom teacher, stressed that there are essentially three elements needed to create peaceful conditions: 1) There is no violence, such as fighting and war; 2) People feel compassion for one another; and 3) People have a place to live and adequate food to eat. She then asked the students to write down their thoughts and how they can help make a peaceful community, and the students took turns reading out what they wrote.

Prior to the lesson, Yasushi Shimamoto, the principal, offered the group from Cambodia an overview of the school, including the school’s annual events. The principal mentioned such things as watching movies and taking part in peace education activities, including listening to the accounts of A-bomb survivors at peace gatherings.

After the classroom observation, the group enjoyed a school lunch with the sixth graders. That afternoon, they took part in a workshop held at the Hiroshima Prefectural Office. The Cambodian officials shared their thoughts about the school visit, guided by Atsuko Morikawa, an associate professor at Hijiyama University. Ms. Morikawa was involved in creating the city’s peace education program when she was a member of the board of education. The group from Cambodia also exchanged views in order to deepen their ideas on such issues as creating curricula for peace education after returning to their country. Chhoeung Chhenghak, 42, was impressed with Hiroshima’s well-designed teaching materials and said, “I can make use of the teaching approach that I learned here, where the class activities are centered on the children.”

The group will be in Hiroshima from September 4 to 19. They are part of the Education for Sustainable Development (ESC) program, which includes peace education, and are observing classes involving historical and cultural heritage, and environmental preservation, at elementary schools in Hiroshima prefecture.


Education Improvement Project in Cambodia
This project seeks to improve education in Cambodia, incorporating the perspective of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), in order to create a more sustainable society in that nation. As part of the Hiroshima for Global Peace plan, promoted by the Hiroshima prefectural government, the project has been pursued for about three years by such entities as the prefectural government.

(Originally published on September 15, 2014)