Some 50 teachers complained to the Ministry of Education this week, saying the government has underpaid and denied them positions as full-time staff as part of a corruption scheme in Kompong Cham province.
The teachers, representing a group of 200, signed a formal appeal to the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association earlier this month asking union leader Rong Chhun to help them secure full positions and the customary salary of 90,000 riel (about $22.50) a month.
The teachers complain they have received only 53,000 riel (about $13.25) a month in the two years they have been teaching at Kompong Cham schools. Novice teachers usually are promoted to full-time teachers after a nine-month trial period.
Rong Chhun called the teachers’ complaints a clear case of government corruption and forwarded that accusation to the Ministry of Education in a formal letter this week. “The Kompong Cham Education Department has committed corruption. The Ministry of Education should take measures against those officers,” he said Wednesday.
The department head, Huot Nonn, denied those charges Wednesday, saying he was acting in accordance with a new government directive that sets the 53,000-riel salary for beginning teachers. He said he could not explain why the teachers have not been hired full-time.
That explanation conflicted with the salary and hiring rules provided by Phnom Penh Municipal Education Department Director Um Hoeurng, who said beginning teachers by law should earn 90 percent of a full-time teacher’s pay and that they should be reviewed for hire after nine months.
Chhroeung Limsry, director of the ministry’s Secondary Education Department, declined comment on the charges.
Teacher pay has been a divisive political issue, and last year Funcinpec campaigned on a demand to increase teachers’ salaries. Rong Chhun appealed to the royalists to enact that demand in the new government.
“I would like Funcinpec to stay firm with that demand, or education in Cambodia will not improve,” Rong Chhun said.