1999. Salesian Br. Roberto Panetto requested Providence Sisters of France to transfer the rights to use the old Providence College of Kep City, abandoned during the war, to Don Bosco Foundation of Cambodia. The building was located in front of the Benedictine Monastery, today the Aspeca Orphanage near the Crab Market. However, the Sisters rejected the request. The old college was demolished in January 2012, and now in its place is a luxury hotel.
In 1999. Kep City was almost deserted and still a municipality of Kampot Province. Br. Panetto saw it as a potential for future educational projects and secured three hectares of land two kilometres to the North of the old Providence Sisters College. The land is located between National Road 33A and Kep Bay.
A group of sponsors funded the construction of some initial buildings:
- The Hatrans Company of Netherlands funded the construction of a building for a sewing school.
- The Don Rua Youth Centre was funded by the People of Belgium as a place for meetings and hosting groups coming from other Don Bosco schools and other provinces.
- The Staff House (Salesian House) was funded by the Sawasdee Foundation among other sponsors.
2000. The school opened as a sewing program for girls from the region directed by Mrs. Vanny and Mrs. Sina. Groups of children and youth from Poipet, Phnom Penh, Battambang, Sihanoukville and nearby provinces used the place for trips and meetings.
2010. There were already proposals to develop Don Bosco Hatrans Kep as a bigger project for the people in the region. Fr. Samnang (Albeiro Rodas) did a study on the region, including Kampot and Takeo. He found that 50% of the technical students at Don Bosco Sihanoukville came from these three south eastern provinces. The study concluded the following:
- There was a lack of technical and professional centres for the youth to continue professional or skills education.
- Many young people emigrated to Phnom Penh and Thailand from these provinces.
February 2011. The Cambodian Salesian Council (CSC) approved the project to develop Don Bosco Hatrans Kep as a technical school.
October 2011. The Technical School opened with 40 students studying social communication and journalism, hospitality or tailoring. Fr. Samnang was appointed as the rector and leader of the centre.
November 2011. A group of donors visited the centre and approved funding for the construction of the Angkor Borei Center Building and the installation of a solar plant. Construction began in December 2011. The beginning was very difficult for students and teachers working without good facilities, but the construction process gave us a lot of experience and joy. Work was done to adapt the old buildings and foreign volunteers also came to support the work as educators and administrators.
October 2012. The Electrical and Information Technology Departments started their courses. The Peace Centre was built for the Electrical and Tailoring Departments.
March 2013. The Ministry of Education inaugurated Don Bosco Technical School as the centre for providing technical training to young people from the region.
After months of waiting for work to be completed, the official opening of the Don Bosco Technical School in Kep City took place from 5 – 7 March. Donors and government representatives came to the event. Local Muslim and Buddhist communities also played a part in the opening ceremonies.
On Tuesday a delegation from the Cham ethnic community, mostly Muslim, gave a blessing to young Cham students attending the centre.
On Wednesday Buddhist monks blessed the school following Buddhist tradition.
Finally on Thursday the Vicar Apostolic of Phnom Penh, Archbishop Oliviere Schimitthaeusler blessed the complex. The Minister for Education, Sport and Youth, the Hon. Im Sethy, and Governors from Kep, Kampot and Takeo provinces attended this final ceremony. Thousands of students from schools around Kep province also attended.
October 2013. Three new sections were created – agriculture, art communication and office administration, and two new skills, culinary and food & beverage were added to hospitality.
Over time Don Bosco Technical School in Kep has evolved. In the beginning it was a simple rural centre where the Salesians and students would come for retreat. Gradually it became a small sewing school. Now, it offers a wide range of educational activities and classes.
The first beneficiaries were the less fortunate young people who had difficulty in finding employment.
At Kep, the Salesians in Cambodia have decided to focus mainly on intellectual skills and the service areas, hence they now run courses such as Media Communication, Information Technology, Electrical, Secretarial Science and Hospitality & Tourism.
After graduating the students can find work more easily in their own province. If they choose to work in big cities like Phnom Penh, they are qualified to compete with others and be less marginalised.