Committee To Run Troubled High School

The Ministry of Education will form an unprecedented committee to take over the duties of a Kom­pong Cham high school prin­cipal whose alleged improprieties prompted a teachers’ strike that has disrupted studies for more than one month, officials said.

On Sunday, Education Minister Kol Pheng approved a proposal re­­questing the formation of a new committee to manage the affairs of Samdech Chuon Nath High School while the ministry investigates the actions of headmistress Khorn Sithuon, Undersecretary of State Chea Se said Monday.

“The schoolmistress used the [school’s Priority Action Project] budget without transparency,” he said. “We need to conduct more investigation into this mat­ter.”

The proposal also suggests a litigation committee to take legal ac­tion against teachers who don’t teach during school hours and a bud­getary committee to investigate the allegations against Khorn Sithuon, Chea Se said. Each com­mit­tee will be staffed with three education department officials.

Composed of two deputy school­­masters and two officials from the provincial education de­part­­ment, the new committee will take over management of the school’s administrative affairs, said Chhay Aun, director-general of the ministry’s administration and finance department.

Though her duties will be re­voked, Khorn Sithuon will retain her title and remain a paid staff member unless the ministry finds specific evidence of her wrongdoing, Chhay Aun said Sunday.

The school’s faculty went on strike in mid-October, charging that Khorn Sithuon misused funds and grabbed parts of the school land for her personal use.

About 50 teachers remain on strike, said Cambodian In­de­pen­dent Teachers Asso­ci­a­tion president Rong Chhun, who criticized the proposal as a weak response to reported corruption.

“Chhay Aun claimed that the schoolmistress could not be re­moved from the position now be­cause there were no officials to be ap­­pointed for her replacement. It was only an excuse by the Min­is­try of Education,” he said Sunday.

Chhay Aun, however, said he proposed the solution because the strike affected students’ education.


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