1999. Salesian Br. Roberto Panetto requested to the 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, and near the Crab Market. However, the superiors of the Sisters denied the request. The old college was demolished in January 2012, and now in its place there is a luxury hotel.
In 1999, Kep City was a very deserted place and still a municipality of Kampot Province. Br. Panetto saw it as a potential for future educative projects and got three hectares of land, two kilometers to the North of the old Providence Sisters College. The land is located to the West of the National Road 33A and touching the 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 Center 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 or Salesian House 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 close 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. It has been found that 50% of the technical students at Don Bosco Sihanoukville come from these three South-Eastern provinces. The study concluded the following:
- Lack of technical and professional centres for the youth to continue professional or skill education.
- The provinces provide a big number of young immigrants to Phnom Penh and Thailand.
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 Social Communication and Journalism, with Front Office Administration, Housekeeping, and Tailoring sections with a total of 40 students. Fr. Samnang was appointed as the rector and leader of the centre.
November 2011. A group of donors visited the centre and approved to fund 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 locations, but the construction process gave us a lot of experience and joy. Work was done to adapt the old buildings. Foreign volunteers came also to support the work as educators and administrators.
October 2012. The Electricity and Information Technology Departments started their activities. The construction of the Peace Centre began to be the shelter for the Electrical Section and the Tailoring Department.
March 2013. The Ministry of Education launched the Don Bosco Technical School for the technical education for the region’s young people. Sponsors and government representatives were present at the event: After months of waiting for the work to be completed, the official opening of Don Bosco Technical School in Kep City took place between the 5th and the 7th of March. The Centre offers a huge opportunity for the less fortunate young people in the area. Local Muslim and Buddhist communities also played an important part in the opening ceremonies. The three-day-celebration for the official opening began on Tuesday, March 5th. A delegation from the Cham Ethnic Community, mostly Muslim, gave a blessing to young Cham students attending the centre. On Wednesday 6th Buddhist monks had their turn and blessed the school following Buddhist traditions. Finally, on the 7th, the Vicar Apostolic of Phnom Penh, Archbishop Oliviere Schimitthaeusler blessed the complex. The Minister for Education, Sport and Youth, the Hon. Im Sethy, and the governors from Kep, Kampot, and Takeo provinces attended the final ceremony. Thousands of students from schools around Kep province also attended.
October 2013. Three new sections were created: Culinary, agriculture, food & beverage; art communication, and the office administration. Don Bosco Technical School in Kep has evolved over time: In the beginning it was a simple rural area where the Salesians and students would come for a retreat; then gradually it became a small sewing school. Now, it offers a wide range of educational activities and classes. The first beneficiaries are the less fortunate young people who have it difficult finding employment. The Salesian technical complex will provide two main benefits for young people in Kep and other neighbouring provinces: The opportunity to remain in their own provinces of origin by improving their working conditions and life; or giving them the chance to be qualified to find a job in larger cities, lowering the risk they have of being marginalised like so many who emigrate from the countryside and flood the metropolitan areas like Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. At Kep, the Salesians in Cambodia have decided to focus mainly on intellectual skills and the service areas, through classes in Social Communication, Art, Information Technologies, Ecotourism, Secretarial skills, Hospitality, and Public Relations.