Four teachers at a Phnom Penh primary school who were suspended last week for allegedly charging children higher-than-permitted fees will resume teaching soon, the school’s director said yesterday.
“I repeatedly warned them about taking money from students, but they didn’t listen,” said Yim Sokheng, director of Bak Touk primary school in Prampi Makara district.
“The school allows them to take only 500 riel, but they asked for much more,” the director said.
The 166 teachers at Bak Touk take money from students every day, Mr Sokheng said, but the school set a limit of 500 riel per student per day under a directive from the director of the Municipal Department of Education.
The four suspended teachers allegedly asked their students for 1,000 riel, or about $0.25, per day.
Under the Constitution, education in all public primary and secondary schools is to be free of charge.
One of the suspended teachers lodged a complaint yesterday.
The school’s board of directors, “under orders from the Municipal Department of Education, asked me to stop teaching for a while for… taking 1,000 riel from students,” fifth-grade teacher Nhoung Sovanrin, 51, said in a complaint to the Ministry of Education.
“In fact,” the complaint continued, “I did not commit such a mistake, because I only took 500 riel from each student,” he wrote.
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, said yesterday that the government has repeatedly failed to take action against extortion by schoolteachers,.
“The new subject added into the education curriculum is not just Khmer Rouge history,” Mr Chhun said, referring to the recent incorporation of the history of Democratic Kampuchea into national textbooks. “The new subject is students’ giving money to the teacher before starting a new lesson.”
Municipal Education Department director Chea Cheat declined to discuss the teachers’ case yesterday, but said he supports the measures taken by Bak Touk school.