The Khmer Rouge regime of 1975-1979 has left Cambodia and its people with visible scars. During this time, Cambodia lost a significant part of its history, culture and population to Pol Pot’s radically communist dictatorship, which has had a profound impact on the country and the national psyche. Due to the genocide, the people of Cambodia are noticeably young. More than 40% of the population are under the age of 15 and there are significantly less men than women. Education is valued highly, and the government aims to provide a complete education system from primary to tertiary level. However, the education system faces significant challenges, facing financial constraints, and teacher shortages (only 5000 of the 20,000 Cambodian teachers survived the Khmer Rouge regime) (Kindersley, 2004).

The Multicultural Arts University: Cambodia project is conducted in collaboration with two Cambodian NGOs caring for, and providing music and dance education for underprivileged, orphaned or disabled children. For ethical reasons relating to child protection and research, we cannot name these organizations on the website. The cultural exchange project is also supported by the Finnish-Cambodian Friendship Association. It has been funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland (2011 & 2012).

With a culture, language and music far removed from Finnish or other Western traditions, all of the students will be given the opportunity to experience being experts in their own culture, and being foreigners to another. As a country recovering from war and poverty, access to basic education has vastly improved in the past decade. It is hoped that this project will both influence and learn from the value placed on education in Cambodia, the development of educational programs both in Cambodia and Finland, and support the high quality of education offered by the organizations involved.



  1. Cultural exchange of music, dance and pedagogies between Cambodian children and Finnish students
  2. Collaboration and training between Cambodian staff and Finnish students
  3. Research into Cambodian artistic traditions and pedagogies by doctoral and post doctoral researchers


Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki
Faculty of Music Education, Jazz and Folk Music/MuTri
Doctoral School

PO Box 30
FI-00097 Uniarts

Contact persons

Heidi Westerlund  heidi.westerlund(at)
Alexis Kallio  alexis.kallio(at)
Danielle Treacy  danielle.treacy(at)