About foundation

About Khmer Cultural Development Institute (KCDI) - The Kampot Traditional Music School

The Kampot Traditional Music School for Orphaned and Disabled Children – Khmer Cultural Development Institute was the first cultural centre of it’s kind to be built outside the Royal University of Fine Arts. Our core commitment is the restoration and preservation of traditional Cambodian culture and fine arts, after the terrible destruction of the Khmer Rouge genocide (1975-1979) and civil war (1970 – 2004). Our school also focuses on the care and development of orphaned, disabled and vulnerable children.
The Khmer Cultural Development Institute was ratified as a Cambodian non-governmental organisation in 1993 by the Supreme National Council of Cambodia under King Norodom Sihanouk and later ratified under the Cambodian Ministry of Interior.
Built in 1994 during the civil war, our school initially faced great difficulties, due to kidnap threats and heavy shelling, especially in the Phnom Vor area.Throughout this period there was a 3pm curfew from the main route from Kampot to Phnom Penh, due to Khmer Rouge incursions. The Khmer Rouge also occupied the adjacent seaside town of Kep, including the main bridge leading to Kampot.


Where our school is located, Official Partnerships and Awards


Our school works in coordination with the Ministries of Culture, Education and Social Affairs and our teachers come from the National Theatre/Royal Ballet and Royal University of Fine Arts. We also partner with other cultural organisations both national and international. The school grounds are situated in the heart of Kampot town in a large garden filled with trees, flowers and little fish-ponds. There are four main buildings :

  • The great hall for music and dance study/performance, designed by the late You Sam El, royal architect, the construction of which was sponsored by the Government of Japan
  • The Mohori music and library wing, sponsored by the Canada Fund
  • The dormitory and dining room building, sponsored by the Government of Japan and the office and medical room, sponsored by the British Embassy.
Our school was awarded the UNESCO World Decade for Culture in 1995, the Raol Wallenberg Humanitarian Award by the Greater New York Raol Wallenberg Committee in 1999 and in 2013 the Ministry of Culture cited the Khmer Cultural Development Institute as a role model for the rest of Cambodia.

Legislation and Child Protection Policy


We take our work very seriously. Beside the commitment to the preservation of traditional Cambodian culture, we also prioritise the care of orphaned and disabled children. Our school holds special policy guidelines for the protection of children, staff conduct, public performances and volunteering. We do not accept volunteers, with the exception of a qualified accountant who comes to our school once yearly from a certified UK based NGO for annual auditing and training. We do not accept tourism volunteering of any kind and we adhere to a strict policy originally laid down by the Ministry of Social Affairs, which does not allow strangers to come and work with our children.

As with Western and developed countries where complete strangers would not be allowed to interact with students at a school or in a family, so it is so with our school. We have special Cultural Exchange Programs with certified international schools, well-known scholars and artists who have been vetted before being allowed to come to our school.
We would like to emphasise that it is only qualified Cambodian artists themselves who can truly teach and pass down their marvellous cultural heritage to the next generation of young Cambodians.