Education officials in Takeo province will investigate a vocational training school whose deputy director burned flip-flops belonging to students who failed to wear closed-toed shoes to class on Friday, an official said on Monday.
Phann Heng, deputy director of the Regional Polytechnic Institute Techo Sen Takeo in Donkeo City, admitted to burning six students’ flip-flops on Friday as a warning to others, though students say 11 pairs were destroyed.
“We admit that it was a bit much, when you look at it. However, if you think about it, it wasn’t too much …because we repeatedly advised them” to wear closed-toed shoes for safety reasons, Mr. Heng said.
Students without proper shoes, he said, were at risk of “electric shock or falling down.”
On Monday, he added, the school —which trains high school graduates for jobs in fields such as finance and engineering—distributed new sneakers to the students whose flip-flops were destroyed.
Nay Mey, 20, a second-year accounting student at the institute, said she was among 11 students whose flip-flops were burned.
“My shoes were broken, and I hadn’t bought new ones,” Ms. Mey said, adding that she understood Mr. Heng’s decision to set fire to the offending footwear.
“If we break the rules, we have to admit our mistake,” she said.
Destruction of the flip-flops would appear to violate Article 410 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits “damaging property belonging to another person”—a crime punishable by up to two years in prison.
Siv Sokhorn, director of the provincial education department, said on Monday that he would send officials to investigate the incident.
“I will send my staff over,” he said. “If I had been aware of the event, I would have called the director of the institute to find out what happened.”