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Teachers union worried textbooks may be sold

A district education official in Preah Vihear may be hoarding state textbooks to sell at the market rather than distributing them to perennially book-strapped schools, according to the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA).

The association sent a letter last week to the Ministry of Education requesting an investigation into why textbooks sent to Preah Vihear’s Rovieng district are sitting in official Pen Samedi’s house rather than district classrooms.

“We are afraid the books kept at his home will be sold,” said Thuon Puth Sasna, a secondary school teacher and president of CITA in Preah Vihear.

Puth Sasna said his school was expecting a delivery of additional textbooks from Phnom Penh that it has yet to receive.

Samedi could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Un Chhorn, director of the Rovieng district education office, said that the books are kept at officials’ homes because the office has no area to store them.

“We have no warehouses, but we also do not have any problems. We provide enough books for schools,” he said.

An NGO study on textbooks published last year found that, in fact, district education offices often embezzle textbooks or other materials, fuelling a nationwide textbook shortage.

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