Teachers at a Takeo province high school who began striking yesterday said they will not return to work until the principal, who allegedly embezzled school budget funds, is removed.
Nearly 30 of 50 teachers at Sok An Kdey Tontoem High School in Takeo’s Samrong district walked off the job, holding banners outside the school demanding the ouster of school principal Long Ith, said Meas Mong, one of the striking teachers.
“If our demand is not satisfied, we will not end the strike,” Mong said yesterday. “The principal has not developed anything at the school, but has pocketed the money.”
In January, teachers at Sok An Kdey Tontoem filed a complaint with the Ministry of Education, laying out their accusations against Ith, and demanding his removal, Mong said. After looking into the claims, the Education Ministry sent Ith a letter warning him against embezzling money, but did not fire him, he added.
The lengthy complaint filed by teachers said that since 2010, renovations that were supposed to be made to the school have not been executed. In that time, there has been urgent need to repair much of the building’s infrastructure, according to the grievance.
“There are not enough toilets; only nine are available for use, and the other six are damaged,” the complaint reads. “Some students no longer come to school [due to shoddy conditions].”
Bills for new supplies at the school have been signed, the complaint reads, but the materials never arrived in classrooms.
Ith yesterday denied allegations against him and accused the 27 teachers striking of damaging the education of Sok An Kdey Tontoem’s students.
“The Ministry of Education has already looked into the issue and made its decision; in short, I did nothing wrong,” Ith said yesterday. “I don’t know what more teachers want when they raise their banners . . . Their strike is affecting the students’ learning.”
Takeo Provincial Education Department Director Siv Sokhon said teachers have the right to protest but also criticised the striking teachers for negatively affecting their students’ studies.
“[Striking] is the teachers’ right, but they must be held responsible for teaching,” Sokhon said. “This is a technical issue that must be solved, and teachers should not [negatively] affect the students’ education.”
Education Ministry officials yesterday said they were to meet with teachers that evening.