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Teachers protest yesterday morning at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park, where they called on the government to increase their wages to $375 a month.
Teachers protest yesterday morning at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park, where they called on the government to increase their wages to $375 a month. Heng Chivoan

Protesting teachers call for salary boost

About 200 teachers from across Cambodia gathered at Freedom Park yesterday to celebrate World Teachers’ Day and request that their base monthly salary be increased to 1.5 million riel, about $375, to keep up with the cost of living.

The Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association organised the event and coordinated a petition that was submitted to Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Ministry of Education via officials who arrived to collect them.

“Wages do not match the cost of living,” said Phun Chheang, a teacher from Pursat province. “Teachers have to take second jobs and don’t have much time to concentrate on teaching.”

At a graduation ceremony in the capital on Monday, the prime minister said that by next April, the lowest wage for teachers will be 953,500 riel, or about $238, an increase from 800,500 riel, or about $200.

Ministry of Education officials refused to comment on the issue yesterday.

However, Chin Chanveasna, executive director for the NGO Education Partnership, which works closely with the ministry, said officials requested a 1 percent increase in the 2017 budget. This year’s budget stands at about $502 million and it represents an 18.3 percent of the national budget of $4.3 billion.

“I don’t think the government would be able to provide such an increase within a year,” he said of the $375. “However, I believe the government will continue to increase the salary gradually.”

Additional reporting by Yesenia Amaro

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