Many Phnom Penh teachers complain they haven’t been paid for three months.
But even with a regular paycheck, the municipality’s teachers would be struggling to make ends meet.
They earn an average of 70,000 riel a month, about $18. In an interview on TVK this week, teachers explained what they did to supplement their income and why they remain teachers.
“I sell things in the school to feed my old parents and my nieces,” said Yom Yem, a teacher at Sra Chark Primary School.
“I sell cakes and fruits. I get up at 4 am to buy these things from the market. If I teach in the morning, I sell in the afternoon. I make between 5,000 riel and 6,000 riel a day. The money I earn plus the salary I get is not enough to feed the family. I also need to work Sunday on the farm.”
Ung Chhoeun, a teacher at Chhum Pou Vaon Senior High School, has a similar patchwork of jobs.
“In order to improve the family’s living condition, I farm,” he said. “I also have private classes. The living is not bad, but just enough. The difficult thing is I have six children in the family. It is only me who works to feed everyone. Despite the poor living conditions, I am determined to teach for life. I will also encourage my children to be teachers.”
Kang Sothea, who teaches at Chbar Ampou Primary School, said that to get by he teaches privately at home and helps his wife sell food and drinks at school.
“It is just enough, we can’t save money from each month. But my living condition is balanced because I can make money from teaching and selling things,” he said. “My wife sells sugar cane juice, fruits and noodles. We get up at 5:30 to buy these things to sell in the school. I help her arrange things at the stall then go back home for a bath before going to the school. I will not change this job. I love it. If we do not want to teach, who will teach our children?”