Education Ministry Studies Anti-Graft Law

Corrupt education officials could face fines for the first time if the Ministry of Education ap­proves the first comprehensive law governing schools.

The ministry will accept public comment in the coming months on the law which addresses is­sues from teacher responsibilities to curriculum requirements to student rights.

According to a draft, teachers and parents could pay $25 to $250 for bribery, forgery, buying and selling certificates, degrees or ex­ams.

Students could pay be­tween $25 and $125 for an offense.

But some observers wonder whether officials will be tempted to cheat despite the law, given their low salaries.

“I don’t think that it is sufficient be­cause people will find the money to pay the fine and continue with their job,” said Supote Prasertsri, a program specialist with the UN Educational, Scien­tific and Cultural Organ­izationt

Teachers, many of whom are paid only $20 to $30 per month, are prone to corruption, he said.

Cambodian Independent Teach­­­ers Association President Rong Chhun has been pushing for $100 per month for teachers.

“Penalty fines will not stop cheating, but will only cause difficulties for teachers and students,” he said.

The draft law notes “teachers shall be paid a fair and adequate wage,” and the government shall ad­here to terms negotiated in teacher contracts.

Peter de Vries, of the UN Children’s Fund, said that lawmakers should leave specific amounts of the fines to ministry directives. The mention of fines in the law reflect ministry progress toward transparency, he said Monday.

Education officials spent more than two years drafting the law in a project funded by Unicef and Sweden, said Long Sothea, a legal officer of the ministry’s personnel department.

Public comment at forums in Kratie, Kompong Thom and Phnom Penh in the coming months will be considered in the final draft, he said.

If approved by the Ministry of Education, the draft law must be passed by the parliament, when the new National Assembly is formed.

 

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