Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association President Rong Chhun on Wednesday criticized the new draft law on education saying that it won’t effectively compel parents to send their children to school.
According to a copy of the draft obtained Wednesday, parents are required to register their children at a public school at age 6, and “they must try their best in order to support those students.”
“Those who breach the rights of learners or educators or parents must be punished from [$25] to [$250] or face penal punishment,” the draft states, but does not elaborate.
Rong Chhun said that the wording in the draft law is too vague, as it does not clearly define what “breach of rights” includes.
“There is no clear punishment if the parents do not send the children to school,” he said.
Ly Somony, undersecretary of state for the Education Ministry, called Rong Chhun’s criticism “irrelevant” and insisted that the draft law will improve the education system.
“Our education will be improved, that is why we produced the law,” he said. “The law will force the parents, but we don’t punish them.”
Ly Somony added that there are more pertinent issues that need to be addressed than punishing parents for not sending their children to school.
“Has the government given enough schools to the people, yet?” he asked. “We cannot force them when we don’t have schools for them.”
According to the draft, students will be required to be taught only in Khmer until the fifth grade and Buddhism will be taught in the curriculum, although students have the right to practice any religion they wish.
The law also states that any educators who demand bribes, or collect fees without permission will be fined $12.50.
Nguon Nhel, first vice president of the National Assembly, said the Assembly’s permanent committee will meet today to discuss putting the draft law up for a vote during the next legislative session.