Kolap Mao: "I understood the power of books to build Cambodian society".

Manager of the youth empowerment project, Kolap Mao has been with Sipar in Cambodia since May 2022. Her experience in librarianship is a major asset for Sipar's development.

Kolap Mao

Can you introduce yourself? What do you do for Sipar?

I've been working in the library field since 2000. I obtained a Master's degree in Library and Information Science in 2010 in the United States. When I returned from my studies abroad, I took up my post as library director at thePannasastra University in Cambodia.

In addition to the library, I quickly became involved in youth activities since the early 2000s, both on and off campus. Later, I was officially appointed Head of Student Affairs, in addition to my position as Library Director.

When I was young, I wanted to be a legislator. I believed I would have the power to create laws that could harmonize society and bring justice. When I had the opportunity to visit libraries in the United States, I began to understand that to help Cambodian society, I had to become a librarian. The law can't protect people if they're not informed and don't have access to information. It was there that I understood the power of information and libraries: books would contribute to the development of my country. 

All the sectors in which Sipar focuses its action, including book publishing, the promotion of reading, libraries and education, and youth empowerment, correspond to my life mission. Participating in Sipar's mission is like fulfilling my mission. This perfect match brings me joy when I come to Sipar every day, no matter what challenges my team and I face.

At Sipar, I'm responsible for the libraries and youth development program. I also manage the library training program and help design Sipar strategies. I'm also involved in the design and implementation of the staff training and well-being program. For example, since last year, Sipar has been organizing English courses for the librarian-educators of the mobile libraries.

What do you think of the youth project and its evolution?

The objectives and activities of the Cambodian Youth Empowerment Project are aligned with the government's strategic plan.This makes it easy for us to work with members of the ministry of education to achieve our common goals. 

I'm convinced that our project model can be implemented in every high school in the country. Because it is aligned with the government's strategy on the one hand, and because it requires few financial resources to implement on the other hand.

What makes you proud about this project ?

I'm proud of this project because it's important and relevant to the current situation in Cambodia. Without this project, there would be no career guidance corners in libraries. There would be no career forums in public high schools. Without this project, high school students end up with nothing to look forward to. It's essential that they have the right information to make decisions about their future.

Do you have an anecdote to share with us ?

When I visited a target high school in Ratanakiri, some 530 km from Phnom Penh, I noticed a little girl borrowing mainly science books. I asked her why she was reading these books and she replied that she wanted to be an engineer. I asked her why, when many students want to be teachers, doctors or policemen. She told me it was because she'd been to the careers forum set up as part of our project. There she discovered the engineering professions. It was there that I witnessed the profound impact on our project.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.