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Ministry eyes school discipline

A teacher guides students through an academic exercise in her classroom at Phnom Penh’s Wat Koh High School in 2014.
A teacher guides students through an academic exercise in her classroom at Phnom Penh’s Wat Koh High School in 2014. Pha Lina

Ministry eyes school discipline

The Ministry of Education late last week instructed provincial education departments to tighten their management of schools and to discipline teachers who are failing to live up to their responsibilities.

Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron, in a statement dated January 18, advised provincial education departments across the country to enforce administrative actions against teachers for a range of offences. These include not showing up to teach, coming in late or leaving school early, hiring others to fill in and bringing outside work into school.

“So far, the ministry has observed that some staff at state schools don’t fully complete their working hours and do not obey their teaching schedule, which affects the implementation of the curriculum and students’ learning, and negatively affects staff who are making an effort,” he said in the statement.

To address this issue, Chuon Naron instructs departments to strengthen their monitoring to keep tabs on the attendance of teaching staff in public schools.

Ministry spokesman Ros Salin would only say yesterday that educational staff have taken part in the sector’s reforms, and that the guidance is to ensure that reforms are implemented effectively and efficiently.

Chin Chanveasna, executive director of NGO Education Partnership, said the initiative is in response to research the NGO published in 2015, which found that on average, over a quarter of all school days had been lost during the 2012-2013 school year for various reasons. The ministry has been taking measures since the data was published to address the problem.

In some instances, teachers were found to take days off that are not official holidays, for example Chinese New Year.

Chanveasna said the ministry has taken reforms seriously, but that schools still need to carry out stronger enforcement.

“I could not say that schools are doing a good job yet,” he said. “There are still some irregularities . . . We need to punish teachers.”

Hem Sinareth, director of the Phnom Penh Department of Education, agreed that these are still issues among his department’s 10,000 teachers.

“It remains in small scale,” he said. “If they come late, [there is] no teacher to guide the students and it [makes students] late for the curriculum that the ministry has set.”

Nonetheless, he said, no teacher has received official administrative punishment in Phnom Penh. “We just tell them . . . to change,” he said.

Chhoun Sophal, director of the Prey Veng Education Department, said disciplinary action against teachers in his province had also been light.

His department has a team that goes to schools to remind teachers to adhere to the requirements.

“So far, we have only warned them, reminded them,” he said, adding that no teacher has been suspended yet.

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