CAMBODIA: Salesian teacher killed and 3 injured at Don Bosco Technical School after gas explosion
(MissionNewswire) On June 7, a powerful explosion killed teacher Sarat Seng in the mechanics department of Don Bosco Technical School in Sihanoukville. Seng was the manager of the mechanics workshop. The Sihanoukville Police Department came to the school after the incident and is still conducting its investigation. It is believed that it was a gas explosion.
The explosion broke windows and roof tiles and affected the hearing of the people nearby, some dazed from the loud noise. Witnesses have said that Seng was operating a gas welding device when the explosion took place. One teacher and two students, one losing his right hand, were injured and taken to the hospital. Most of the students in the classroom were standing further back and uninjured.
All of the students in the schools were summoned to the school hall at the time and dismissed until further notice. The school will be closed for a time. Salesians are asking for prayers for Seng and his widow and two small children, as well as those injured.
The Don Bosco Technical Center in Sihanoukville is one of six technical schools supported by the Don Bosco Foundation in Cambodia. The Foundation provides technical skills training for youth between 16 and 22 who have completed at least the 8th grade. The technical schools are located in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Kep, Battambang and Poipet and provide courses in automotive, industrial mechanics, electricity and electronics, social communication, secretarial and office administration, tailoring, hospitality, welding, agriculture, information technology and language and arts communication.
“The Don Bosco technical schools are important for poor students in Cambodia and also for developing a skilled workforce for the local economy,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Not only is education about learning to read and write, it provides a foundation for a career and a secure livelihood. Salesian educational programs bring new hope for Cambodian students and for their families.”
Cambodia has a long history of violence and conflict that has driven up poverty rates in the country. Having moved past the troubles of the Khmer Rouge regime, Cambodia’s economy has been strengthening and the construction, tourism and agriculture industries have seen much growth. However, according to the World Bank, just more than 20 percent of Cambodians still live in poverty, many residing in the country’s most rural areas. Close to 75 percent of the population continues to face seasonal food shortages and 37 percent of Cambodian children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition.
Rural Cambodians make up about 80 percent of the country’s population and have the most limited access to education, healthcare and other public services. Only 24 percent of Cambodians have access to electricity, 64 percent to clean water and 31 percent to adequate sanitation. Hospitals are also low-quality, and the impoverished cannot receive proper care and treatment. Today, close to a quarter of Cambodians over the age of 15 are illiterate. With very little access to education, poor youth find it especially challenging to break the cycle of poverty and find hope for the future.