Teachers Pay for January Delayed in At Least 9 Provinces

Teachers in at least nine provinces have not received pay for January because of a problem processing a $5 per month raise included in the 2010 national budget, education and union officials said yesterday.

“We accept that there are nine provinces unpaid yet,” said Ly Sithy, director of finance at the Education Ministry. He blamed the delay on “paperwork involving the extra 20,000 riel added in the budget.”

“Now we have enough money to pay and we will pay them this week,” he said.

Teachers interviewed yesterday said they are typically paid for their month of work in the middle of the following month, making their paychecks for January now over a week late.

Kim Darany, a teacher in Pursat province, said there are often problems at the beginning of the year, when the government traditionally gives teachers a raise of about $5 a month.

“It is usually paid late, not only this year,” an irate Ms Darany said in a telephone interview. “Why does the government not pay the teachers on time? If they do not pay on time, teachers are not good at teaching students,” she said.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodia Independent Teacher’s Association, also said not paying teachers affects their work. Teachers already have to cope with low pay, he added.

“They get a small payment and now it is late while the prices of goods increase every day,” he said in a telephone interview.

Mr Chhun has said he wants to secure a minimum teachers’ wage of about $250 a month, up from the $40 to $100 that is now the typical salary.

SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua called the delay in paying teachers “totally unacceptable.” Teachers turn to students when the government does not pay them, she said.

“Right now the children are paying for the teachers’ salaries, which is the extra money the children are asked to pay every day,” she said of the informal payments often asked by teachers of students.

The government budget has a discretionary fund that should be used to avoid any delays in pay to teachers, Ms Sochua said.

   (Additional reporting by Clancy McGilligan)


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