Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday ordered the Ministry of Education to investigate allegations that teachers in Battambang province have been tricked out of large sums of money with promises of full-time teaching positions.
“I saw an article printed about contract teachers in Battambang province being swindled,” Hun Sen said at a graduation ceremony at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh. “Officials must go down to conduct an investigation.”
Men Sothey, president of Battambang’s branch of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, claimed that since 2003, 519 part-time primary school teachers have each lost $450, which they paid to local education officials in unsuccessful bids to secure full-time employment. The money they reportedly paid totaled $233,550.
“Education officials from the district and provincial education departments conducted field trips to each primary school based in remote districts to collect money from those contract teachers who want to be full-time teachers, but the promise never came true,” he said.
“Teachers are hesitant to file complaints to the Ministry of Education because they feel scared to lose their jobs,” Men Sothey added.
Education Ministry Secretary of State Pok Than said the ministry would investigate.
CITA President Rong Chhun said he sent a complaint to the ministry in 2003 alleging that officials had taken $500,000 from teachers in Kompong Cham province in a similar ruse, though no one was ever held accountable.
“They’ve never replied to our complaints,” Rong Chhun said.
A primary school teacher in Battambang’s Banan district who declined to be named said he had been able to work as a teacher since 2001 despite lacking proper credentials, as his area lacks qualified teachers.
“I want to be a full-time teacher, which is why I decided to borrow money from neighbors totaling $450 to give to a group of education officials who came down to my primary school and promised to help me,” he said.
“I want the Ministry of Education to help me get that money back.”
Ministry of Education officials in the province could not be reached for comment.