Learning, collaboration and partnership

Cambodia Regional Event: Building Stronger Communities Through Education

During February 2024, EdJAM project partners met at the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for the second EdJAM Regional Event. We were excited to welcome colleagues to join together from Uganda, Pakistan, Jordan, Palestine, Belgium, South Africa, Cambodia and the UK. We were extremely sad that Kenrick Wallace from Jamaica and Dr Justin Sheria Nfundiko from the Democratic Republic of Congo were unable to join us, due to visa issues beyond their control, although they had planned to do so.

EdJAM regional events  were an opportunity for our funded project teams to build relationships; share approaches, methodologies, and project outputs; explore common goals and interests; and contribute towards EdJAM’s Learning, Evaluation, Collaboration Partnership (LEP) activities.  The main aim to build stronger relationships across the EdJAM network for  future collaborations. Colleagues sharing their work and experiences during this 5 day event, were collaboratively developing key messages for teaching and learning about past violence and present for more just futures.

Day 1: Monday 12th February 2024

After meeting for the first time in person (for the majority of us), EdJAM Co-Principal Investigator, Dr Kate Moles (Cardiff University), welcomed our colleagues from across eight countries to the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre to begin the EdJAM regional event in Cambodia.  Sopheap Chea, Executive Director of the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre, and Dominic Williams the UK Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia, welcomed us to Cambodia!  These welcoming words were followed by a presentation from Piseth Tieng, who shared Bophana’s work on the App-learning on the Khmer Rouge History .

In the afternoon, Dr Line Kuppens, University of Leuven (KU Leuven, Belgium) presented the project Uprooted: co-creating an educational timeline addressing the violent past . For this project Line Kuppens worked with Dr Justin Sheria Nfundiko, Dean of the Faculty of Social, Political and Administrative Sciences at Univeristé Officielle de Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  Line shared their experiences of developing local curriculum and training for teachers of high school students in DRC.  They recently published a blog which you can read here.

Dr Helen Scanlon and Carl Capitaine, from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, then presented their work from their project, Unfinished Business: Memory and Counternarratives to the Rainbow Nation.    Their project aims included; challenging the silences and biases in South Africa’s public space and making explicit links between histories of violence and, contemporary legacies of violence in an educational series focused on South Africa’s unfinished transition.


Day 2: Tuesday 13th February 2024

Our day started with a short bus trip to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (TSGM) in Phnom Penh.  We were given an educational talk with Heng Sophara and Kimly Sothearak, from the museum, explaining the importance of the museum to the people of Cambodia.  He discussed the musuem’s work documenting the Khmer Rouge Genocide, which took place between 1975-1979.  The museum, itself is based on the site of the former S-21 prison.

Back at the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre in the afternoon, our Cambodian colleagues continued the discussion about the Khmer Rouge period.  First, Kimly Sothearak from the Disconcerting Past – History on mass atrocities project shared how their project team developed the Violent Past Teaching Manual: a free downloadable teaching manual which engages with history teachers, offering student-centered methods and interactive ways of learning about mass atrocities and violent pasts.  This teaching manual is available in Khmer, English and Spanish and can be used in other context to teach about violent pasts using activities and guided dialogue with students.

We were then introduced to Man Sokkoeun, from Youth for Peace, who leads the Samrong Knong memory sketch project, which reconstruct the memory of Samrong Knong, a former security center, through arts and dialogues, for educating and healing victim-survivors and non-recurrence of mass atrocity in Cambodia.  The project engaged 8 university students in documenting the oral history of Samroung Knong, through capacity building on oral history, memory, and interview techniques. The project also engaged 435 participants in developing project awareness, including victim-survivors, community youth, high school students, and other relevant stakeholders.

Day 3:  Wednesday 14th February 2024

Our third day began with a presentation from one of EdJAM’s project partners – the Refugee Law project.  Francis Nono shared the Refugee Law Project’s work on the Mobile exhibition in Post conflict Northern Uganda.  He explained the importance of memorial spaces that are “necessary for dialogue about past human rights abuses, trauma and how they can be repaired”.

Lawrence Hoo and Chaz Golding, from the UK, followed by presenting their teaching training workshops, which were funded by EdJAM, and their wider work on the Charting African Resilience Generating Opportunities (CARGO) classroom curriculum. “The CARGO Movement illuminates the contributions and achievements of people of African and African diaspora heritage, through poetry, illustrations, art installations, videos and educational resources, telling the stories of people who have catalysed change and moved humanity forward.” Chaz created a short film to document their experience of the event here

Our final presentation of the morning was from two of our Pakistan colleagues, Rameen and Fatima, who shared their work on the Embracing social identities project. “At the heart of [their] project was an exploration of how power has been abused in everyday lives and through larger social structures to marginalise gender minorities in Pakistan, with a focus on power dynamics that have enabled past violence and injustice.” (Their 6-part docuseries, The Looking Glass was also screened at the Bophana Centre to colleagues during the lunch break the following day).

After lunch, we had film screenings from two other projects based in Pakistan.  From the project, Memories of Conflict: Healing from Lyari’s Violent Past, Dr Nida Kirmani and Husain Qaizar introduced and screened their documentary film ‘Shadowlands’.  Their film documents the stories of some of the residence of “one of the oldest settlements in Karachi, Lyari”.  The film screening was followed by Arafat Mazhar and his colleague Amna Akber introducing a series of animated short history explainers. Arafat is an EdJAM project partner, leading the Hashiya project platform, which, through animation and illustration, initiates dialogue relating to colonialism and class, violent pasts, deliberate silences, and buried histories in Pakistan.  Arafat also leads two further EdJAM projects:  Decolonising history programme, and Resisting Erasure & Homogenization: A Hashiya Textbook.

Day 4:  Thursday 15th February 2024

Our day began with a visit to the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh. Our extremely knowledgeable guides took us on a tour of the museum’s collections of Khmer cultural material including sculpture, ceramics and ethnographic objects from the prehistoric, pre-Angkorian, Angkorian and post-Angkorian periods.

After lunch, back at the Bophana centre, Yazan from Grassroots Al-Quds in Jerusalem, began this session by inviting us all to join him in a minute of silence for all of the lives that have been taken since 7th October 2023. Yazan Risheq and Asma Odetallah, from the Knowledge as a tool for liberation: Economy and culture as violent colonialist tools project, explained the experiences of Palestinians living in Jerusalem, having to continually prove their right to enter the city and remain living in their family homes.  They shared a virtual tour of Jerusalem, with the use of maps and timelines, which visualised how and why, Palestinians’ have progressively had their boarders and freedoms limited over time.

Abdullah Awad and Sadee Arafat introduced their project based in Jordan, Raising Awareness About the Challenging Past in the Middle East.  This project developed a complete educational experience which tackles the violent past through creative and critical tools in an intimate and supportive learning environment. The project was embedded in the local linguistic, cultural, social, and religious context; took into account material inequalities which may disadvantage certain participants; and, given the experience of their team, allowed them to share findings through academic, policy, and public-facing outlets so as to allow elements of the project to be appropriately considered in other contexts.

Day 5 – Friday 17th February 2024

Our final day opened with presentations from our colleagues in Uganda.  Lino Owor Ogora and Susan Acen began presenting their project,  Strengthening Community Memorialization in Northern Uganda. This project sought to contribute to strengthening community memorialization initiatives in northern Uganda through the Lukodi Community Memory Center, located in Lukodi Village, Gulu District. Making it a place where the memory of the past is preserved and cultural education in the form of traditional practices, may be taught to the community.

Our final project presentation was a screening of the documentary film created by Dr. Okaka Opio Dokotum and Dr. Laury Lawrence Ocen who lead the project Performing Pain: Mnemotechnologies of remembrance in Abia and its impact on informal (music) education, memory, peace and recovery.  Their documentary examined how the Abia Community of the Lango subregion of northern Uganda, who suffered a horrific LRA massacre on February 4th 2004, remember their dead and their suffering and find healing through their music and dance, both as individuals and as groups in light of official remembrances and commemorations. The message of the songs and paralinguistic features were collected through a dance showcase, recorded live on video for later analysis, and for use in the mini documentary film. The documentary film will be released later this year.

To close our event, Dr Tania Saeed and Dr Sameen Mohsin Ali facilitated the Learning, education and collaboration partnership (LEP) workshop to draw on the weeks presentation and develop collective answers to the following synthesis questions:

  • What are EdJAM’s key messages for those working towards SDG target 4.7 (skills and knowledge for a culture of peace and non-violence)?
  • How would we describe the features of creative approaches to teaching past violence and injustice / reparative pedagogies?
  • What are the key regional contributions/outcomes participants would like to see from EdJAM?

For our final evening our hosts organised a farewell dinner and boat trip along the Mekong River!

EdJAM would like to give special thanks to the team at the Bophana Audiovisual Centre for hosting such an amazing event and for creating a short film to document the week:  EdJAM Cambodia Regional Event – Short Film

Blog by: Kerry Parsons 

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