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Cambodian Teachers Call for Higher Salaries

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Photo: Khortieth Him

Download Hundreds of Cambodian teachers from across the country mark this year’s International Teachers Day by demanding higher wages.

Teachers with the current salary say they can’t keep up with the rising cost of living.

And they are forced to make money illegally from their students.

Khortieth Him reports from Phnom Penh.


Hundreds of teachers from various provinces have gathered in Freedom Park in Phnom Penh to demand an increase in wages.

They shout,”Please look at the life of teachers and please help to increase our salaries.”

One of them is 48-year old primary teacher Kim Darany from Pursat province.

“I have been teaching for more than 30 years, but my salary is only 50 US dollars a month. I have spent my life time teaching students, but I don’t have and can’t even buy an old bicycle.”

It’s hard for her to support her family.

“I have two children to take care of, but I can’t afford to give them a higher education. If I just spend 3 US dollars a day, it’s still not enough to buy food. How about money to buy clothes, medicine and so on? It’s difficult.”

Primary school teachers get around 60 US dollars per month while high school teachers get 110 US a month.

Kim says it’s not enough.

“I have to violate teachers’ ethics, from selling snacks in the class, teaching extra class outside school or selling copies of teaching lessons to students. Sometimes I do some farming activities or other jobs for money, and not teaching at all.”

42-year old Kong Socheat is a high school teacher from Preah Vihea province.

“If we talk about my expenses, my salary is not enough to cover them. I have to do other businesses and do farm to make enough.  It’s the life of teachers in general. When all teachers are doing this, we don’t have enough time to do our research or preparation before teaching our students because we have to think about our life.”

38-year old Borey’s son is studying at a primary school.

He says if his son doesn’t give the teacher money directly he will not get good marks.

“My son has to give up to nearly 2 US dollars per day to his teachers per subject. And I have to spare extra money for teaching documents, exam documents. It’s difficult for poor parents or those who have two or three children at school. They can’t afford to pay and some have to stop their children from studying. I do understand that it’s because of the low salary of teachers.”

Cambodian teachers are demanding a minimum salary of 250 US dollars a month.  They say this will help put an end to corruption.

President of Cambodian Teachers Association Rong Chhun says this will improve the quality of education.

“A recent survey by education NGOs show that the main reason that cause low quality education in Cambodia is the teachers’ low salaries. To improve the education quality, the government has to increase the salary.”

But, the government is focusing on building more infrastructures for 14 million Cambodians.

Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“To increase the teachers’ salaries, it means we have to borrow money from other countries and we can’t do that. But if the money is to build roads, bridges, irrigation systems and electricity to contribute for economic development, then it’s OK. We can’t borrow money to increase the salary of teachers.”

Back to the Freedom Park...

Teacher Kim Darany says she doesn’t know whether she can stop taking money from her students with this low salary...

“We know that what we’re doing is not good and a violation of teachers’ ethics. But we do this because of our hungry stomach, we need to eat and live. We’re not doing this to become rich, but only to live.”

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 24 October 2012 16:35 )  

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