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Boxes for donations, not bribes: minister

Boxes for donations, not bribes: minister

The minister of education proposed yesterday that donation boxes for teachers be installed in schools across the country, but stressed their aim would be to diminish rather than grow a culture of bribery in the system.

Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron presented the idea for the “equity foundation boxes” during the capital’s first forum between teachers, parents and students at Hun Sen Bun Rany High School.

“[Donating] money to the equity foundation boxes has to be transparent. Students cannot think it should be used to buy [better] scores on [tests or in class],” Chuon Naron said. “Giving donations should be given voluntarily and not pressured.”

But some forum participants said the government should raise salaries rather than introduce a donation system.

According to a grade 12 teacher, low salaries were the cause of many problems in schools and must be increased.

“If teachers had a better living wage we would pay more attention to [better] teaching our students,” he said. “If Excellency [Chuon Naron] wants to strengthen the quality of education, he has to boost teacher salaries first,” he said.

The minimum wage for teachers increased in January from about $80 a month to $100, according to the Teachers Association of Cambodia.

Ros Sopheap, executive director of NGO Gender and Development for Cambodia, said yesterday that the amount of money that teachers were paid was “not in synch with reality”.

“How can the minister say education is a priority for this country when teachers are so undervalued by the system that they have to ask for bribes from their students to support themselves?” she said.

Phay Vanna, 45, barely makes do on his monthly salary of $160. To supplement his income, he teaches extra classes each month, he told the Post.

“If teachers’ salaries ranged from $250 to $500 we could survive. I don’t want to teach extra classes because it leaves no time to rest. We deserve a [liveable] salary, too,” he said.

The ministry announced this week that exam proctors would be paid twice as much as last year in an attempt to stamp out bribery.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AMELIA WOODSIDE

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