Teachers in Preah Vihear province and the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (Cita) have denounced a letter issued on Tuesday by the provincial education department banning teachers from tutoring on Sundays and public holidays.
They said the ban violates individual rights and students’ desire to expand their knowledge. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport responded by saying the edict followed requests from parents and guardians to improve the educational system.
The letter, addressed to all school principals in the province, prohibited all teachers from tutoring inside or outside school premises on Sundays and holidays. It said tutoring on holidays has a detrimental effect on the quality of teaching and learning.
Provincial education department director Chen Limhorn told The Post freelance tutoring has a negative impact on students because Sundays and holidays are a time for students to relax and the practice lowers the quality of teaching and learning.
He added that some teachers pressure or force students to come to classes on public holidays.
“If any teachers do not follow this guidance, the school principal must inform the education department so it can take appropriate administrative action,” he said.
Thuon Puth, an English teacher at Preah Vihear province’s Hun Sen Rovieng Secondary School, told The Post on Thursday that the ban violates his rights as he is free to tutor in his spare time and students can choose to come if they wish.
Puth added that he does not earn a good salary and uses tutoring to earn extra money on holidays.
“They should not ban us because it is not a public matter. It is a private matter. The department should address the matter case by case, and should not issue a letter banning all teachers."
“I don’t want the department to be involved. Let the students decide themselves. It is their right. They can complain if teachers force them to come to tutoring [outside normal hours],” he said.
President of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (Cita) Uk Chhayavy told The Post the education department was wrong to ban the practice.
“The ban violates teachers’ and students’ rights. It’s a teacher’s right to tutor during public holidays.
“If teachers tutor during school official hours, they would be in the wrong. However, during their private time and during holidays, it is their right to provide teaching. A government institution should not issue a letter banning teachers from tutoring,” she said.
Ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said the ministry had issued bans many times prohibiting teachers throughout the country from providing private tutoring inside and outside official hours within public education institutions.
He added that it is the provincial department of education’s right to make the order, in response to requests from parents and guardians.
“The director of the department of education has the legitimate authority to issue any bans in accordance with requests from students’ parents, based on actual circumstances."
“[Private] tutoring is not illegal in Cambodia. The ministry never prohibits [private] tutoring. However, tutoring during official school hours, and especially at the end of official school hours, is prohibited because it affects students’ and teachers’ health,” he said.