Education Ministry Warns Against Political Bias

Days after education officials in Pursat province were accused of distributing CPP-branded shirts to students, the Education Ministry on Wednesday reminded teachers to follow laws that ban political activism and propaganda at schools.

The statement, signed by Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron, did not explicitly mention the shirt distribution in Pursat, which was widely covered in local media and discussed on social media.

“Responding to the present situation,” the statement said, “contributing material, like clothing… that serves political activity or po­litical propaganda is penetrating the education institution.”

The ministry called upon education officials to “take action…and strengthen [efforts] to implement” Article 34 of the Education Law and Article 37 of the Common Stat­ute of Civil Servants. The article in the Education Law states that political activities in educational establishments “shall respect the principles of neutrality.”

“Political activities and/or propaganda for any political party in educational establishments and in­stitutions shall be completely banned,” it reads.

The article in the Common Stat­ure of Civil Servants states that working for or against a political party or candidate constitutes a “professional breach.”

On Monday, a student at Pursat High School and the provincial head of a teachers association said pink shirts branded with the words “I Love the Cambodian People’s Party” were handed out by school officials before an event on Sunday.

Ly Sokhunthy, director of the pro­­vincial education department, re­futed the claim and said the students obtained the shirts elsewhere.

Education Ministry officials could not be reached to explain the timing of the statement or whether the distribution of shirts in Pursat was being investigated.

Ouk Chhayavy, acting president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, voiced skepticism about the sincerity of the ministry’s statement.

“I think they issued the statement to look good and to give the impression that they do not have political motivations,” Ms. Chhaya­vy said. “But I want to ask Mr. Hang Chuon Naron, which party do you serve?”

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