Cambodian teachers can expect to receive a boost to their notoriously low salaries later this month as a new pay system which officials say rewards merit and skill takes effect.
But the raise is only half-welcomed among some teachers. Many complain the raises under the new policy will be too small and will have only a token effect.
The size of each teacher’s increase will depend on their level of education and experience, said Chhay Aun, the general director of the Ministry of Education’s administration and finance department.
All teachers will have the same base salary of about $12.80 a month, but they will get different amounts of teaching bonuses for performing well and so-called “functional money,” which will be given to teachers who have special skills and longer work experience, Chhay Aun said.
Under the current system, there is no such functional money. Teachers only receive their monthly wages and occasional bonuses.
“The new system will help promote the quality and professionalism of the teachers, like it does in other countries,” Chhay Aun said.
Under the new salary system, functional money will have five levels, ranging from about $15 per month at the lowest end for primary school teachers with less than three years’ experience to about $18.25 per month for primary school teachers with more than 16 years’ experience.
But that is not enough for some teachers, who say they will still face a net loss from not having their monthly bonuses. They also resent that higher officials are getting much bigger raises. A director at the Ministry of Education, for instance, will see his or her salary rise from about $34.50 per month to about $175 per month.
“It’s a large disparity among the salaries,” one Takeo province teacher said.
Others complain that teachers are still getting lower raises under the new policy than other civil servants.
Teachers need a base salary of at least $100 per month before the government can begin to address the low morale among the nation’s educators, Cambodian Independent Teachers Association President Rong Chhun said.