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Teachers protest school relocations

Teachers protest school relocations

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Teachers-in-training sit in a lecture hall at the National Institute of Education yesterday in Phnom Penh. Photograph: William Kelly/Phnom Penh Post

Rong Chhun, head of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, sent a letter to the Ministry of Education on Wednesday asking Minister Im Sethy to rethink a policy that would strip teachers of the ability to choose where they would be posted at the end of further education.

According to a letter by Chhun obtained by the Post, working teachers who returned to the National Institute of Education to receive their “A” certification – which allows them to teach secondary school – could choose to return to their old posts, unlike teachers with no prior experience.

However, new rules introduced on July 12 place experienced teachers on equal footing with their newly minted colleagues, leaving some to face reassignment to far away posts.

“This point makes new teachers want to show their dissatisfaction to the Education Ministry’s directive, because it causes difficulty for them to be far from home, leaving family, children and old parents with no one to look after them,” wrote Chhun.

An anonymous letter, sent to Chhun earlier in the week, which purports to represent the views of 400 teachers and ministry officials enrolled at the NIE, motivated Chhun to take action.

“If there was post selection [like under the new policy], we wouldn’t have spent money to study for a bachelor’s degree and to apply to the National Institute for Education,” the letter states.

Some “A” certification seekers at the NIE said that while they disagreed with the new rule, they would have preferred to issue complaints through the proper channels.

“I feel disappointed with the letter sent to Rong Chhun,” said one such teacher who declined to be named.  

“This kind of letter is not our will.”

Chan Kunthear, another enrollee, said that the policy wasn’t inherently bad, but that its timing – just one month before the new teachers were slated to take their posts – was problematic.

“They should have issued it one year ago, and then we could have seen if we agreed [before we started the program],” she said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Chhay Channyda at [email protected]
Stuart White at [email protected]

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