Muslim group donates to poor
A German Muslim aid organisation has given the Cambodian Muslim Students Association (CMSA) US$25,000 for loans to be administered to 100 families living along the railroad tracks in Daun Penh district, the district governor said Wednesday. "Each family will get $250 on loan for 10 months without interest," Sok Sambath said. CMSA Director Sous Mousine said the loan programme was part of the student group's effort to reach out to poor residents in the capital, adding that the use of the money would be closely monitored. "They have to do what they promised in a contract to use the money in a good way and to pay the loan back to us on time," he said.
THE Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA) on Wednesday issued a statement urging the Ministry of Education to lower student fees at universities.
CITA President Rong Chhun said Wednesday that the association wants fees to drop at public and private universities to help students from poor families stay in school.
"If the Ministry of Education really wants to look out for the future of Cambodia's poorer students, this is a way to accomplish that goal," he said. "It would not be difficult. All the ministry needs to do is send a request to all universities."
Rong Chhun said many students decide to suspend studies after high school because of the high cost of university fees, which he said can run as high as US$360 to $400 a year.
He added that a more suitable rate of a $280 would ease the burden on parents who pay for their children's fees.
The recommendation follows a report by the International Labour Organisation on Tuesday suggesting that the global economic recession threatens to move more children into the labour sector as families who have lost jobs or suffered salary reductions found it too expensive to support their education.
Bill Salter, head of the ILO subregional office in East Asia, said a prolonged economic crisis will "erect new financial obstacles in front of children trying to access education" during a national workshop studying the impact of the global recession on child labour.
Tam Sokrey, 21, a second-year student at Phnom Penh International University, said he would have had to quit school next year because of high fees if he had not received sponsorship from a private foundation.
"I really want all universities to discount their fees ... because most of them cost too much money for most students," he said.
Pith Chamnan, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Education, said he would look into the matter.
"Once I receive the CITA statement, I will consider taking action. But I have not yet seen it," he said.