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English teachers told not to discuss politics with students

English teachers told not to discuss politics with students

T EACHERS will not be allowed to discuss politics with their pupils, under a new

order from the Royal Government.

One ministry official said the penalty

for disobeying the order would be decided by the courts.

The government

decree has been passed to the Phnom Penh education municipality and will affect

both Khmer and foreign teachers of English.

A Ministry of Education

official, who requested anonymity but who had seen the decree, said: "Many

teachers quote from newspaper such as the Bangkok Post or the Phnom Penh Post to

teach their students... and the articles are mostly political and criticize the

government."

Representatives of 19 private schools at a meeting in the

Khan Bram Pei district education office were told by the district chief "you

can't talk about politics, you can't talk about corruption, you can't criticize

the government," according to one attendee.

The man, who asked neither he

nor his school be named, said it was his understanding that "many investigators"

would go around schools ensuring the order was enforced.

He said the

meeting was told that foreign teachers would also be "requested not to talk

against the government".

Khan Sam Bo, who is in charge of private schools

within the Khan Bram Pei district and was one of the organizers of the meeting,

said it was true that teachers were told to teach only their specific

topic.

"Some teachers not only take articles from newspapers but they

also use other words to criticize the government," Sam Bo said.

When

asked whether the order was targeted against Khmer or foreign teachers, he said:

"Teachers who teach English and use words against the government."

Sam Bo

explained that neither the ministry nor many teachers had approved "programs" to

teach English.

"They teach just what they want to teach" and many had no

formal qualifications.

Sam Bo said the word "investigators" was probably

"too strong" to use. "They are just supervisors who will go around schools,

finding out how many teachers and where they are from."

He said the move

against talking about politics was from "a Royal Government decree" handed down

to the Ministry of Education.

If supervisors found teachers using "bad

words" against the government "we will just report to the ministry and they

would order me to do what they say, according to the decree".

"We have

police and they can find [the teacher], where he is living, investigate and the

police can do their job," he said.

The ministry official said that the

government considered any teachers who taught "politics" against the government

was a person who supported politicians who were against the

government.

Local authorities would take control of teachers' curriculum

or "spy" during class, he said.

"If the authorities found that teachers

were using political articles against the government then they would be arrested

and sent to court, and the court will judge."

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