Gov’t to Close School Accused of Pimping Pupils

Authorities in Siem Reap province say they will shut down an unlicensed English language school whose director was arrested last week for allegedly pimping out his teenage students to visiting volunteers.

Veha Long, 32, was charged by the provincial court a week ago with the procurement of child prostitution on suspicion of having provided at least two 17-year-old boys for sex. His private school in Sotr Nikum district, the Underprivileged Children School, was found to be operating without a license.

Provincial education department director Ouk Sreybi said the school would be shut down “soon,” but would not specify when. He said he was still waiting on a final report from his staff, who were trying to find out—among other things—how local authorities had allowed the school to open in 2008 and continue to operate.

“We will not allow the school to stay open unlicensed,” Mr. Sreybi said, adding that its rural locale would make it difficult to monitor.

“We are going to shut the school down because it is not a public school and it would be difficult to administer because it is in a remote area and it would be easy for the owner to do something wrong,” he said.

Chheng Vanna, deputy director of the province’s social affairs department, said 89 students were presently enrolled at the school.

She also noted that the school’s only teacher, Long Ley, Mr. Long’s sister, had no formal training to teach English.

“The teacher doesn’t have enough technical training to teach because she did not receive any pedagogical education,” she said.

Nop Leap, whose daughter previously attended Mr. Long’s school, said the closure would be a loss for local families who could not afford to send their younger children to a private school to learn English.

“Closing the school will affect students here because they will not be able to learn English anymore because they are poor,” she said.

Ms. Leap’s daughter was one of nine teenagers staying at Mr. Long’s rented home in Siem Reap City at the time of his arrest. She said her daughter was staying with Mr. Long so she could attend school in the city, and that she did not believe the director was guilty.

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