PM Promises Investigation for B’bang Teachers

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.


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