Education Official Promises to Repay Shortchanged Teachers

A technical error caused 57 teachers in Oddar Meanchey province to be shortchanged when collecting overtime salaries, said an education official who promised the problem will be rectified by the end of May.

A teachers’ union on Monday asked the Ministry of Education to address some $5,200 missing from six-months-worth of overtime wages for 17 teachers at Anlong Veng Primary School, claiming corrupt officials had stolen the money.

But a provincial official said Wednesday that the problem affected a wider population of teachers.

“We acknowledge that 57 teachers have a problem with their salaries across the whole province,” said Choeun Chhea, acting director of Oddar Meanchey’s education department. “We told the district education officials to demand back the excess salary and give the money back to [the teachers] this month.”

Some teachers at Anlong Veng Primary School did not receive their overtime payments, while others received payment not due to them, only to have it taken back by district officials, sparking the corruption claims made by the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA).

Mr. Chhea blamed a technical error made while preparing wages, and claimed that teachers in the province had previously been made aware of the issue.

“We told the teachers already about this problem and they understood. Only Anlong Veng district had a reaction,” he said.

“If we find out that the district education officials are engaging in corruption like they were accused, those officials will have to face the Ministry of Education and the Anti-Corruption Unit.”

Nhorn Sarun, a CITA member and teacher at Anlong Veng Primary School, said that he had not been made aware of the technical error, and maintained the claims of corruption.

“The teachers from the primary school who had their names stolen by officials lost at least $362 each,” he said. “And I believe that dozens of other teachers in the province have also had their names and salaries stolen.

“If there is no solution, we will collect thumbprints from as many teachers in the province as possible and file a complaint about this corruption,” he said.

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