THE Cambodian government has refused demands to boost teachers’ salaries, as educators across the country celebrated a tightly controlled World Teachers Day on Monday.
The Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA) called on the government to pay instructors a wage of 1 million riels (US$240) per month, a demand that government authorities said was “unrealistic”.
Ngo Hongly, secretary general of the council for administrative reform at the Council of Ministers, said that the government has already quadrupled teachers’ salaries from an average of approximately 81,000 riels in 2001 to 340,000 riels today.
Teachers also enjoy a 20 percent raise every year, Ngo Hongly said.
However, CITA president Rong Chhun said that only a few teachers make that kind of money. For most, salaries start at only 146,000 riels a month, leaving many educators struggling to survive.
“The government must accept the truth,” he said. “Do not try to hide the truth and the hardship of many teachers with the high salaries of a few.”
Rong Chhun said his estimates were based on surveys of teachers across the country.
The sparring over salaries came after the teachers were barred from staging a public rally on Monday to celebrate World Teachers Day.
Instead, some 100 teachers from 15 provinces marked the day at CITA’s central office in Phnom Penh, where 50 police officers outside kept a close watch on proceedings, the teachers said.