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CITA teacher association given go-ahead to hold Oct 5 Freedom Park rally

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Teachers protest at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park on World Teachers’ Day in 2015. Hong Menea

CITA teacher association given go-ahead to hold Oct 5 Freedom Park rally

The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration have given permission to the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA) to hold a gathering of 200 people to celebrate Teachers’ Day on October 5 at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh.

The City Hall requires the association to ensure that there will be no politicians who are still under the Supreme Court-imposed five-year ban from politics present at the gathering, unless that individual has received political rehabilitation via a royal decree.

The condition for the gathering in the public park was imposed at a meeting between the municipal authorities and CITA on September 28.

“[CITA] is responsible for ensuring that those who have been prohibited from engaging in politics for five years by the Supreme Court are not allowed to gather in public, except for those who have received political rehabilitation,” Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Keut Che told The Post after the meeting.

Che said that in addition to these conditions the authorities have instructed CITA to express their opinions without negatively affecting the monarchy or top national institutions, while the authorities will ensure the security of the gathering.

In addition to those rules, they also told CITA that any petitions to be submitted to certain government institutions were not allowed to be submitted at their administrative buildings and instead that representatives of the three institutions would come to receive the petitions in person at the meeting place.

CITA president Ouk Chhayavy said that the authorities wouldn’t allow them to take the petitions directly to the three institutions because of the risk of the procession causing traffic jams.

“We brought up with the city authorities the fact that we were just going to be walking peacefully to submit the petitions, but they still wouldn’t allow it. However, we will abide by the agreement we made with City Hall to make sure our rallies can take place smoothly,” she said.

According to Chhayavy, the theme to be celebrated on Teachers’ Day this year is “Increasing the Quality Level of Teachers in Cambodia”. She said she wants to see a new image for those working in the field of education.

Chhayavy said that teachers should not compromise their dignity by selling biscuits or snacks in school or by charging for extra classes to earn money and giving worse scores to students who don’t pay to study in their extra classes.

At the same time, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport will hold a Teachers’ Day event all day on October 5 under the theme “our teachers, our future, our nation” at the Phnom Penh Pedagogical Institute, which will also be streamed live online.

Ros Soveacha, spokesman for the ministry, said that the ministry is focused on improving teachers’ lives and their qualifications to contribute to strengthening the quality of education as stated in the education strategic plan 2019-2023.

Asked about the Chhayavy’s criticisms regarding teachers charging for extra classes, Soveacha agreed that it wasn’t correct to do such things but also pointed out one big improvement the government has already made in order to curb these behaviours.

“Obviously, teachers’ salaries in 2015 were between 500,000 riel and 1.2 million riel [$120 and $290]. This year, the salary ranges between 1.2 and 2.1 million riel. [Prime Minister Hun Sen] has already informed the public that starting from 2023 onwards the minimum teachers’ salary would further increase to at least 1.5 million riel,” he said.


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