Authorities are trying to transfer six teachers away from their Banteay Meanchey provincial school because they were insubordinate, not because of their political activism, a government official said Thursday.
“They did not listen to the assignments of their leaders. One English-language teacher first was assigned to teach 10th grade, but later was asked to teach an additional class at the 12th grade, and he refused,” Secretary of State for the Ministry of Education Pok Than said.
The six teachers, who were employed at Samdech Euv Secondary School in Bantey Meanchey province, were ordered to report to one of four different schools about 70 km away, according to Sim Sorn, one of those transferred.
Rong Chhong, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, said the motives for the transfers were political.
“Those six teachers were among 11 teachers who stood protesting against school corruption at the National Assembly in May,” the union chief said.
The teachers exposed a corruption scandal in which school directors took several thousand dollars from the school, Rong Chhong claimed. He said the transfers amounted to “threats and intimidation” against all teachers. Government auditors recently uncovered about $15,385 that was missing, but they have already disciplined the guilty parties by ordering them to repay the money and transferring them out of the provincial education office, Pok Than said.
Authorities say they tried to avoid transferring the teachers, but four separate compromises failed. The transfer has been submitted to National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Minister of Education Tol Lah. That is merely a cover story, Sim Sorn said.
“We have never seen the Ministry of Education officials come to our school and point out our mistakes to us,” Sim Sorn said. “If they think we made a mistake, let them show us. The action they did to us is revenge, because we were brave enough to fight against corruption in the school.”