Cambodia Independent Teachers Association President Rong Chhun sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday, asking him to set up talks aimed at ending the teacher walkout at a scattering of schools nationwide.
“If the government and CITA still hold stubborn stances and confrontations, the victims are our students,” Rong Chhun wrote. “I insistently request you to intervene [in the matter] so that representatives from government and CITA can meet to seek a resolution which all can accept.”
Sean Borath, an adviser on education affairs for the Prime Minister, said he hadn’t received the letter, but Hun Sen was in no position to intervene. He suggested CITA should be talking to officials at the Ministry of Education.
Teacher trainees at the Faculty of Pedagogy in Phnom Penh returned to the classroom Tuesday. Student Lay Vansay said they would go to class the rest of the week and see if the government changes its position.
Ros Sovanny, a teacher at Phnom Penh’s Toek Laok school in Tuol Kok district, said several uniformed and plainclothes policemen were on the grounds. She said teachers were in the classroom but weren’t teaching. A teacher at Tuol Tom Pong High School in Phnom Penh who asked not to be identified said replacements are ready to step in if teachers walk out.
“If we dare to strike, we will be fired and other teachers will be in our class in an instant,” he said.
He asked parents to support striking teachers, in hopes that teachers can make a decent salary and stop charging students for lessons and school supplies.
“Nowadays the school has become a market,” he said. “Teachers spend more time selling lessons to students for 500 to 700 riel ($0.13 to $0.18) than they do focusing on preparing a good lesson.
“Teachers cannot advise students on good discipline when we’re taking money from them every day.”