Educators File Pay Complaint With Hun Sen

School administrative staffers facing bonus pay cutbacks have filed a complaint with Prime Minister Hun Sen, asking him to stop an education reform they say will cut their already low income.

Educators from seven Phnom Penh district education offices and eight schools asked Hun Sen to overturn a Ministry of Youth, Education and Sports ruling that reduces bonus pay for educators who work in administrative offices, according to Daun Penh district Education Office Chief Bang Sokhon.

The new system, which government officials say is an incentive to get teachers out of administration and back into the classroom, pays experienced teachers at a lower scale than new teachers, Bang Sokhon said.

“My salary will be lower than the primary school teachers,” he said, claiming he will lose 50,000 riel (about $12.50) per month.

Under the ruling, teachers who work solely on an administrative staff will no longer qualify for the monthly teaching bonuses, and will instead get a lower administration bonus ranging from about $5 to $11.25 monthly. Classroom teachers will see their bonuses raised to about $15 monthly.

Government officials say the directive, which went into effect Jan 1, will get 2,000 experienced teachers back into Cambodia’s classrooms. But that could have disastrous consequences of its own, said Cambodian Indepen­dent Teach­ers’ Association President Rong Chhun, whose union is protesting the change.

“What will happen if all the office staff volunteers to teach?” he said.

“It’s a serious issue which affects all teachers,” one Battam­bang province junior school teacher’s assistant said. He contended the change sends a bad message that administrative work is unimportant.

“I am responsible for 13 eighth-grade classes. I supervise score lists, attendance lists…and handle parent relations,” the assistant said. “Our salary is already low and if it is reduced it will affect our living conditions and the quality of education.”

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