Certified public school teachers are forced to work extra jobs because they don’t earn enough money to support themselves and their families, which could damage the quality of the country’s education, according to the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association.
The average salary for a schoolteacher ranges from about $28 per month for primary schools and up to $53 per month for upper secondary school teachers, said CITA Director Rong Chhun Tuesday. With food inflation and with a family to support the monthly teacher’s salary only lasts 10 days, he said.
“The teachers have to find extra jobs to support their living, such as being motor taxi drivers or teaching in private schools. The quality of education could decrease because of low salaries,” Rong Chhun said, adding most public-schoolteachers moonlight at other jobs.
The meager public school salary also makes it harder for remote villages and communes to find qualified teachers since it is harder for teachers to find extra work in rural areas to supplement their incomes, Rong Chhun said. Newly-graduated teachers are assigned to rural schools where they have to work for two years, but many bribe officials so that they are placed in bigger cities, he added.
Although the salary for the teachers is low, it cannot be raised because the government doesn’t have the resources, said Um Hoeurng, director of Phnom Penh municipality’s education department. The quality of education will not be affected, he said, because teachers gain more experience if they also teach in private schools.
It is a problem to find teachers who want to work in remote areas, Um Hoeurng agreed, and even though travel expenses are given to teachers who take posts in remote areas, most teachers will choose to stay where it is easy to find extra work.
Kou Rathnak, a Khmer literature teacher at Chea Sim Chamroeun Rath High School in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district, said she makes $57 per month at the school, but works an additional two hours per day at a private school, for which she receives $100 per month.
“I have to teach extra private classes because on my salary I would not be able to support myself,” she said, adding that moonlighting at a second job is exhausting, which can affect a teacher’s performance in class.