Late payments that teachers have long criticised have caught the attention of Cambodia’s acting Minister of Education, who has instructed provincial education departments to get their acts together.
In a letter on Tuesday, acting minister Pin Chamnan told heads of education departments in each of the Kingdom’s 25 provinces that delayed payments of teachers’ bonuses and overtime work can severely impact their lives.
“The late payments affect most teachers’ livelihoods,” the letter reads.“The ministry urges all department directors to distribute wages on time for bonuses, and especially payments for extra sessions.”
Cambodia has about 110,000 teachers, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen.
In Battambang schools, education department administrators already make an effort to pay bonuses and overtime on schedule, said provincial department director Ngy Set, who had not yet seen the acting minister’s letter.
But part of the problem is the department itself is often paid late by schools, therefore making it difficult for the department to pay the teachers’ bonuses and overtime fees in a timely manner, Set said.
“When payments are late, it is because the schools themselves are sending payments late, so as soon as we get it, we pay teachers,” Set said, adding that his department usually pays teachers on time. “As for salary, we try to pay them at the end of the month.”
But Pen Sophy, a teacher at Monivong High School in Battambang, said they typically are paid overtime and bonuses once every three months.
They often have to make an issue of it with the provincial education department before they receive their bonus and overtime pay.
Overtime only amounts to about $0.60 per hour, Sophy told the Post.
“The department pays us [bonuses and overtime] once every three months, and if we do not protest, we will not be paid,” Sophy said.
“It affects teachers’ livelihoods. Some teachers have to find other sources of income, but others do not and depend on payments for extra sessions they teach.”
The Ministry of Education’s interest in provincial school departments’ late payments is a step in the right direction, said Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association.
Teachers already earn low wages, Chhun said, so late payments for the extra hours they worked can be very problematic.
According to state data, most teachers earn between $135 and $216 per month.
“Teachers’ salaries are still low, and they depend on the money for teaching extra sessions,” Chhun said.
“If these payments are late, it seriously affects their livelihoods.”