OFFICIALS have shrugged off criticism over a new national council tasked with leading education reform, insisting it is a necessary step towards raising education standards.
Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua said the Supreme National Council for Education, which moved closer to reality when the Council of Ministers approved a draft royal decree last Friday, would duplicate the role of the Education Ministry.
"You should ask where the chairman comes from," she said. "Will he give rights to the members or not? And who are the members? If they are from the Ministry of Education, doesn't it overlap jobs and waste the national budget?"
Cambodian Independent Teachers Association President Rong Chhun said the government should instead strengthen the Ministry of Education and give extra money to teachers.
But Ministry of Education Secretary of State Mak Vann said the new council had a clearly defined role to lead education reform in the country.
"The role of the Supreme National Council for Education is to advise [the ministry] and design a plan to reform the sector to meet the education needs of the young Cambodian generation," he said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen will serve as chairman and Education Minister Im Sethy as permanent vice chairman. Other members will be drawn from government ministries.
"All the members of the organisation have strong education experience," Mak Vann said.