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Teachers demand salary increase

THE government should reduce the pay gap between members of parliament and teachers if it wishes to improve the quality of education in the Kingdom, said Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA), on Sunday.

"The salary gap is a serious abuse of human rights," Rong Chhun said at a news conference after the World Teachers Day celebration in Phnom Penh. "It would be reasonable [for the government] to increase teacher salaries to 1 million riels (US$245) per month if MPs earn a salary of nine million riels per month."

Cambodia currently employs about 100,000 teachers nationwide, earning approximately $45 per month, according to a report compiled by CITA.

But Cheam Yeap, chairman of the National Assembly's Commission on Economy, Finance, Banking and Audits, said it is not reasonable for the union to expect that teacher salaries be comparable to that of MPs.

"I wish Rong Chhun was an elected MP so he could understand our duties and why there is a salary gap," Cheam Yeap said, adding that MPs only receive around $242 per month.

But Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Yim Sovann welcomed the teachers' demand for higher wages, saying the government promised to increase their salaries by 20 percent both in 2008 and 2009. 

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