Heritage for Kids Report
Friday, 11 September 2015 06:59
Cambodian school children have been putting the basic concept of heritage into the life of their communities.

Living in a remote community, ninety Cambodian school children at Banteay Chhmar Primary School are playing an innovative role in the implementation of the “Heritage for Kids” Program.  This program provides one of several measures to protect the famous architectural, historical, and cultural site of Banteay Chhmar from destruction caused by illicit trade in cultural properties, illegal looting activities, and land-used development.

Why does Heritage Watch focus this training on school-aged children?

Children often more easily acclimate to their surroundings and the willingness to learn. It is often said that it is much easier to learn a language when one is young. The same idea is applied here toward cultural preservation.  In this regard, we are starting to educate on heritage values, protection, and preservation at an early age, in hoping this becomes a life-long aspiration to protect and preserve the heritage treasures of Banteay Chhmar.  Importantly, the children will apply their new knowledge of heritage throughout their families and communities.

90 kids with the 16 high school-aged students in front of Banteay Chhmar temple

Heritage for Kids Objectives

  1. Provide heritage education to school-aged children who were born, attend schools, and live within the cultural heritage environment of Banteay Chhmar. Through this program, they will understand their long-standing ties to the cultural heritage of the site.
  2. Design lesson plans for and implement the heritage education program at the primary and secondary school level in Cambodia, the pilot program being at Banteay Chhmar.


The Heritage for Kids Project chose ninety (90) children from two classes from the 5th Grade of Banteay Chhmar primary school.  The students are all between 10 and 15 years old. The project provided the kids with basic concepts of heritage, both tangible and intangible.  Activities included colouring and reading comic books on Cambodian heritage, site and museum visits, and other hands-on activities. 

Lesson plans and educational activities were introduced to the teachers in advance, in order to get them directly involved in helping their students perform.

The project also encouraged the children to begin thinking about the different forms of heritage, in terms of how looting affects the site, in what other ways the site is destroyed, and to assess the lack of local knowledge about the site and what can be done to address these problems.


The Education Program

            The group followed an agenda which allowed everyone to understand certain meanings of heritage, culture, and other important terms used in the field. The following presents some of the activities conducted during the training program.

1.     Define “heritage.”  What does it mean to you?

2.     What are the different forms of heritage

3.     Examples of natural heritage: mountain, sea, river, lake

4.     Examples of Cultural heritage:

4.1           Tangible cultural heritage

4.2           Intangible cultural heritage

5.     What is local heritage: archaeological sites, burials, ancient mounts, kiln sites, excavation sites and tools, artifacts

6.     Heritage at the museum: preservation, conservation and management

7.     Colouring heritage comic books and site visit

8.     Trip to visit Banteay Meanchey museum

9.     What can we do about preserving the heritage of this site? Why is Cambodian heritage so important to you?

Note: The heritage education classes normally occurred on Saturday afternoons with two sessions, one hour per session.

In-class activities

Involving the 16 students of Banteay Chhmar High School

Sixteen high school students (Grades 11 and 12) of Banteay Chhmar High School joined the Heritage for Kids project as mentors, to pass on their knowledge and experience of heritage and the site to the children.  The high school students had been trained in heritage and research methodology through the Khmer-Thai research team of the Cultural Relationship in Mainland SEA Project (CRMA). These older students had previously conducted training research at the Banteay Chhmar site. They led the children around the many historical sites throughout the Banteay Chhmar community.


The children worked together in groups at the site


Visiting Banteay Meanchey Museum

Closing Ceremony

On 19 July 2015, the Closing Ceremony of the “Heritage for Kids” Project was organized in Banteay Chhmar Primary School with over 150 participants. These included dignitaries such as the General Director of Heritage: Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, the Governor of Banteay Meanchey province and representatives of provincial departments, and local authorities, as well as delegates from Thailand.

The Closing Ceremony was to congratulate the children’s understanding of heritage and inspire them to start applying this knowledge and experience in their local communities.


H.E. Kousoum Saroeuth, governor of BMC and H.E. Prak Sonnara, General Director of Heritage, MoCFA, appreciated an implementation of “Heritage for Kids”, and promised to support the project and provided gifts to the children

Program Recognition

This project, supported by many different groups and individuals around the world, recognizes that these children are custodians of Banteay Chhmar’s future, and that they have an important role to play in protecting, preserving, and developing their own cultural heritage for generations.

The children’s activities are being noticed by local people as well as beyond Cambodia’s borders. Many tourists have taken photographs of the school activities and have shown genuine interest. Typically, they see it as a good way to educate young people to think and to solve the problems themselves, and to be aware of the common benefits to the public. This program has also been recognized on an international level, through Heritage Watch.

With a success of the “Heritage for Kids” in step 1, we will proceed with the Heritage for Kids in step 2 “Training in Heritage and Environment” in next January 2016.

Who sponsors the project?

The Heritage for Kids Project was sponsored by donors throughout the world (via Kickstarter) with direct implementation by Heritage Watch in cooperation and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, APSARA National Authority and the CRMA Project as well as with strong support by Banteay Meanchey Provincial Hall and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.


Welcome to Heritage Watch!

Headless Apsara at Preah Khan of Kompong Svay, Cambodia.Heritage Watch is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Southeast Asia’s cultural heritage.

Cambodia is famed for the temples of Angkor but little is known of how these temples came to be. The secrets to the rise of Angkor are to be found in the lesser known temples and the countless prehistoric settlements and cemeteries across Cambodia.

Heritage Watch was founded in 2003 as a result of a sharp increase in the destruction of Cambodia’s precious cultural heritage - especially the looting of ancient temples and cemetery sites nationwide. 

Heritage Watch is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the world, through research, education, and advocacy.

Its mandate is to:
 • study threats to cultural heritage, including the illicit trade in antiquities, the looting of archaeological sites, and loss of historic architecture, among others.

 • educate the public on the artistic, informational, historical, cultural, and economic importance of heritage resources

 • increase access to and awareness of national and international law affecting cultural property, while working with the proper authorities to implement, enforce, and improve it.

• Promote responsible tourism that furthers cultural and economic development and encourage the tourism industry to support the arts, culture, heritage and development.

• foster communication between relevant governmental and intergovernmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, and individuals

Heritage Watch has undertaken a diverse range of projects aimed at both the supply and demand end of the international antiquities trade as well as promoting responsible tourism in Cambodia.  

Enjoy your visit to the Heritage Watch website. 

"The looting of prehistoric sites across Cambodia has reached epic proportions..."

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