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The Cambodian School

For Pavie, it was essential to train young Cambodians in the administration of their country alongside the residents. "It is important," he wrote to Le Le Myre de Vilers, "that these young people become valuable assets to their country." Even if they have nothing but dedication, that would already be a lot […] It is a dedication that borders on the fanatical, they are mine as I am yours; I benefit more from their presence than from that of French companions. What strength such a group would give the resident of Cambodia! When I think of the bunches of frauds and old boys to whom we are forced to resort, who alienate the people far more than they serve us.

From General Bégin, who was responsible in the interim for governing Indochina after the departure of Thomson, Pavie obtained authorisation to take 13 young Cambodian Thai speakers to be educated in France. Almost all of them spoke a little French, were "intelligent, educated about their civilisation and sons of meritorious officials." From time to time the young people appeared in one of Pavie’s travel journals. On the ship that took them to France "the Cambodians were surprised by the movement of the ship. All of them were troubled to a greater or lesser extent by seasickness. The captain authorised me to take them for one hour per day to the petty officers’ battery for their French lesson." In Paris, Pavie was warmly welcomed by Admiral Gallibert, Navy Minister, and Armand Rousseau, Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. Emmanuel Goldscheider, brother of the Director of the Colonies, became their teacher. Once he had been appointed Vice-Consul in Luang Prabang, Pavie entrusted his protégés to le Myre de Vilers. He became a member of the school’s administrative council when he finally returned from Indochina. Initially based in the Saxe Hotel, the Cambodian school would later move to Rue Ampère. When, in 1888, it became a colonial school, it lost its original vocation rather quickly and was used to train French administrators.