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Low wages tempt teachers into graft

Low wages tempt teachers into graft

"NOBODY wants to be corrupt but we have to live," said one teacher, who asked

not to be named. "Our salary is 50,000 riels per month, just enough to feed the

family.

"Our living conditions are very poor."

"Many teachers

survive through taking on extra jobs, overtime teaching, private tutoring,

moto-taxi driving or selling goods on the street. Others support themselves off

their spouses income.

"Poor salaries have a destructive effect on

student learning. Students look down on us when they see how poor we are.

"They don't listen to or respect us when we try to give them advice on

how to study better."

"When we try to discipline students they often

threaten us, sometimes they carry guns.

"Often parents, especially

people in high positions, blackmail us to make sure their sons and daughters

pass the exams."

Pen Sarun, director of Bak Touk High School, said:

"Teachers' standard of living has worsened since the SOC period. The salaries

were better then and the teachers also got other supplements from the

government."

"The Ministry of Education promised in March to increase

our salaries by 20,000 riels per month . The pay rise still has not come

through. We wonder if it ever will."

"Most teachers behave honestly when

monitoring exams.

"But when they were dispatched to the remote areas,

they were only given 5,000 riels to cover their travel and expenditure for a

week.

"Often they would have to spend their own money in addition to the

Education Ministry allowance.

"There was a strong temptation to become

corrupt."

Sarun said this year all teachers had taken an oath to be

honest during student examinations. "I hope at least 70 percent of corruption

will be eliminated. No amount of government measures will stop the cheating, it

will only be stopped if the teachers have good moral character."

Another

teacher said: "Students prefer, rather than studying, finding ways to cheat or

relying on bribing someone to pass their exams. The bribe rate is too cheap."

"Foreign culture has also had a bad impact on students desire to learn.

"Most students are more interested in racing motorcycles, karaoke,

nightclubs, video games and going to health clubs than their lessons."

"Our teaching is not good, because we have to earn extra money we do not

have much time to prepare good lessons. "Each passing year student competence

deteriorates."

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