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Govt attacks teachers group over scathing school survey

Govt attacks teachers group over scathing school survey

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090330_03.jpg

Ministry of Education calls the Cambodia Independent Teachers Association ‘a group of uneducated people' over its report.

Photo by:
CHRISTOPHER SHAY

Cambodian school children in Ko Rong Samleom in Preah Sihanouk province. 

THE Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport lashed out at the Cambodia Independent Teachers Association (CITA) on Friday following the group's release of a teacher survey critical of Cambodia's education system.

CITA claimed that underpaid teachers lead to a corrupt education system where students must pay teachers to attend class, forcing the poorest students to drop out and teachers to lose their social dignity.

In a press release, the Ministry of Education dismissed CITA's findings, calling the teachers association "a group of uneducated people".

In The, the director general of administration and finance at the ministry, said CITA's sample size of 460 teachers out of a workforce of more than 110,000 was not large enough for significant results and questioned how the respondents were chosen.

"I don't know where the statistics came from. It's unacceptable for that many teachers and students not to attend school, but that's not how it works," In The said, referring to CITA's claim that 53.9 percent of teachers occasionally skip school to earn money outside the classroom.

In The admitted that Cambodian schools still have room for improvement but said the picture is not nearly as bleak as the CITA survey suggests.

"Education in our country today is better than before because there are more schools, and we are still building more in people's communities."

But Rong Chhun, the president of CITA, said the Ministry of Education simply does not want to admit how poor the quality of schooling is in the Kingdom.

"The Ministry of Education's press release shows they just want to hide their weaknesses. They do not dare accept the truths about the system they created," he said Sunday.

Despite the government's dismissal of their conclusions, CITA is not alone in stressing the need to raise salaries.

The NGO Education Partnership said in a December 2008 report that raising teacher salaries was a "top priority".

"It is impossible to earn a living on a teacher's salary in Cambodia," the group said.

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