Teachers’ Union Head Says Education Funding Skimmed

A union leader said Thursday that Kompong Thom province’s education department has been shaving teacher bonuses and salaries from an internationally funded system that was designed to prevent teachers from taking informal “fees” from students.

Forty-four teachers in Baray district have seen their salaries cut  by more than $3 and seen their pri­ority action program bo­nuses cut by 2 percent, Cam­bo­dian Inde­pendent Teach­ers’ Ass­ociation Director Rong Chhun said Thurs­day. The bonuses are funded by an Asian Development Bank loan de­signed to provide incentives to prevent teachers from charging students for lessons and supplies.

To dip into those bonuses will only worsen matters in dis­trict schools, Rong Chhun said.

The teachers have all put their thumbprints on a complaint against the district education administration, alleging corruption. The deductions in the salaries began earlier this month.

Although the amount of money may not seem like much, it is having a “drastic effect” on the teachers’ standard of living, Baray district teacher Keng Van Tha said.

But authorities have only skimmed the salary to pay for other benefits for the teachers, Tral High School Director Eang Bun Heang said. Some of the money goes to a fund designed to pay death benefits for teachers, and the rest goes to pay for the cost of gasoline to ship teachers’ salaries to the remote district from Kompong Thom town.

District officials must pick up the salaries from the provincial capital, and the district will lose money unless teachers are asked to help out with the transportation costs, Eang Bun Heang said.

The payments to the death-benefits association are mandatory throughout the country, Baray district education accountant Phao Kim Seng said.

“I don’t cut their money to spend it. I do what the district education department has told me to do,” Phao Kim Seng said, adding the teachers are “confused” about the cuts.

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