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School complaints trickle in

People wait at the Chea Sim Boeung Keng Kang High School
People wait at the Chea Sim Boeung Keng Kang High School yesterday in Phnom Penh. A complaint against the principal of the school makes a number of corruption allegations, all denied by the principal. Vireak Mai

School complaints trickle in

Fed up with alleged for-profit schemes being conducted at their school, a handful of high school teachers took their complaints to a new anti-corruption task force, and they aren’t the only educators making use of the new ear to their woes.

The National Assembly’s 10th Commission on Anti-Corruption recently received its fifth letter attesting to off-the-books money-making ploys undertaken by school management, according to Vann Narith, opposition lawmaker and a secretary to the commission.

In the most recent letter, a handful of teachers at Chea Sim Boeung Keng Kang High School claim their principal rakes in extra cash by renting out school property to food stalls or to private events in need of a parking lot, said lawmaker Ho Vann, who heads the 10th Commission.

“They accused the principal of pocketing the budget for buying teaching materials. They accused him of exaggerating teachers’ hours to take more money from the ministry,” he said. “We haven’t received enough evidence to make any claims. We have to investigate by inviting both parties to questioning.”

None of the teachers making the complaint could be reached yesterday.

However, school principal Ngov Chhun Hak denied the allegations against him. He said the deputy principle Duch Phal Vann has been the ringleader of the complaints in order to stage a coup.

“All spending is not decided by me alone, but goes through the school committee,” he explained. “The deputy principal … wants to get rid of me for my position.”

Four other schools sent the commission complaints of a similar ilk. At one of them, Tuol Prasat Sen Sok high school in Sen Sok district, the commission made quick work of the problem.

“The principal got fired recently,” said one of the school’s teachers, adding that the principal had been found improperly spending rent funds and faking teachers’ signatures to make purchases.

The Ministry of Education could not be reached to confirm the account yesterday, a public holiday, but last week the minister announced his newest series of reforms will focus on school inspections.

“So far the inspection activities have not been very serious,” said Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron. “The ministry will revise the annual performance reviews and inspections of teaching … I am not convinced by the [annual] reports’ assessment that the schools are all of high quality.”

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