Washington, DC Friday, 11 February 2011
Cambodian school children sit under the shade of tree as they listen to teacher at Trapaing Loeuk primary school in Kampong Speu province.
“If education is weak, it impacts all sectors.”
Low salaries for teachers means that nearly all of them have to take second jobs, which threatens the quality of Cambodia’s education, a leading teachers activist said Thursday.
Rong Chhun, who is the president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, told “Hello VOA” that a poor teacher corps was harmful to the development of Cambodia overall.
“When they have another job, they do not have time to research or properly instruct, and there is no concentration in transferring their knowledge to students,” he said. “If education is weak, it impacts all sectors.”
Cambodia has more than 100,000 teachers nationwide, but their budgeted salary is only $40 to $60 per month. This leads almost “95 percent” of them to take other jobs, Rong Chhun said.
Teachers have complained alongside other workers that the price of goods and services in Cambodia continues to rise, but that salaries have not kept pace.
Cheam Yiep, a lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and head of the National Assembly’s finance committee, said the government tries to raise salaries by as much as 20 percent per year. However, he acknowledged that low salaries and continued inflation have made it a struggle for many teachers.
Rong Chhun said the government should pay teachers up to $240 per month and encouraged more educators to join his association in a bid to raise salaries.