A march held by the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association met resistance from local authorities yesterday, as teachers, students and parents attempted to deliver a petition to members of the government.
Led by the president of CITA Rong Chhun, the march, which swelled at times to more than 100 people, was constantly monitored and at times authorities attempted to break it up in a bid to limit the crowd to just 15 people – a number stipulated by an order from the municipality.
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua said yesterday that a core group of 15 teachers from 15 different provinces managed to deliver a letter petitioning for increased salaries and a system to fairly distribute annual bonuses to the Ministry of Education, the office of the Prime Minister and the National Assembly.
Mu Sochua said the group delivered the letter to the three institutions they intended, but failed to receive feedback regarding the government’s response.
“They [teachers] were firm with their demands. The teachers can’t survive with the salary that they receive. They feel like they have lost their value. It is demeaning to them and it reflects the lack of investment in the education sector,” she said.
Director of Administration for Phnom Penh Municipality Keut said authorities attempted to break up the march because: “Not allowing the procession would avoid affecting security, safety and public order.”
But CITA defended its march. “We did not want to go against the government, but wanted to promote the value and dignity of teachers in society,” said Rong Chhun.
He described the authorities’ efforts to break up the procession as “discrimination and a closure on the freedom to hold a procession”.
Spokesman for the Ministry of Education, In The, said declined to comment.