In Cheung Kok village in Cambodia, the rationale behind parental education consists in making the child obey the rules of filial debt and Buddhist accomplishment of “merits” (guṇ), and this in the framework of a relation of deference between younger and older generations. In this context, parents rather give value to primary school education. The “schoolmaster” is an ally; he/she is going to transmit values of respect of the ages and status’ hierarchy, and to teach reading, writing and numeracy skills. If children are unlikely to reach high schools, at least they will learn these basic skills and they will not spend their youth “roaming around” (ṭoer leṅ) like vagabonds.
For ten years however, international organizations have been calling into question local pedagogies which make the subordinate and deferential position of the pupils the condition of their good apprenticeship. Schoolmasters, asked by the authorities to change their pedagogical practices, are hindered between two moral systems. This communication will study this moral friction and the manner in which schoolmasters have been dealing with it.