Hun Sen Touts More Money for Education

The government is proposing raising its annual budget for education by approximately $17.3 million, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Tuesday at a teacher training graduation ceremony.

Speaking at the Faculty of Pedagogy, Hun Sen said he wanted the Ministry of Education’s budget for 2002 to be raised to $73 million. In 2001, the ministry received $55.7 million.

The Ministry of Education’s five-year reform plan, published in June, projected a budget in­crease to $82.6 million. The plan called for free basic education, food programs and scholarships for poor children, especially girls.

International donors said at a July education conference that the plan was overly ambitious and required a more realistic time frame.

The 2001 national budget allotted the most money ever to the social services sector. But just 11 percent of the budget went to education, compared to almost 30 percent for military and security concerns.

Minister of Education Tol Lah said Tuesday he hoped the 2002 education budget would make up 17 percent of the national budget. He would not comment on wheth­er money from an in­creased budget would be used to raise the salaries of teachers.

“We are still in a state of negotiation,” he said. “This budget still has to be adopted by the National Assembly and Council of Min­isters [later this year].”

The Cambodian Independent Teachers Association asked the government in a letter Tuesday to raise teacher salaries nationwide to $100 per month. Teach­ers currently receive on average about $25 per month.

Hun Sen also said he wanted school textbooks to be updated and more libraries built. He said sports should also be emphasized in schools. And he said he wanted the Ministry of Education to upgrade the teaching of science, mathematics and computers in order to develop a more modern, technology-oriented economy. He proposed setting up an Internet center for students in Phnom Penh as a pilot project for expanding Internet access to students in the provinces.


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