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Private school parents petition for lower fees

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Parents and guardians of students at CIA FIRST International School are asking for a 35 per cent drop in fees. Hean Rangsey

Private school parents petition for lower fees

Parents and guardians of students at the private CIA FIRST International School plan to submit a petition asking Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene in their ongoing tuition dispute.

The parents, who have been protesting school costs for weeks, now want the price of online classes to be lowered by 35 per cent.

The petition was crafted after a second meeting with school representatives on Thursday failed to reach an agreement.

The school still holds its position to lower the tuition fees by 25 per cent for kindergarten and 20 per cent for those in grades 1 to 12. Parents have lowered their demand from a 50 per cent discount to 35 per cent.

One parent, Im Phalla, said he has two children studying at the school but the Thursday meeting failed to reach a desired a result.

“Even if we try to raise our reasons related to our problems and lower our tuition fee demands, the school representative still doesn’t want to budge,” Phalla said.

Phalla raised the concern that he could not afford to buy study materials for his kids who study online. Before Covid-19, he and his wife tried to work extra hours, be frugal with spending on food and saved money to invest in their children, he said.

But since Covid-19 arrived he said his family and many others in Cambodia have lost jobs and incomes, he said.

“Learning online requires a computer connected to the internet. We cannot afford to buy those tools for our children’s education because a laptop costs more than $300 and tuition for each child is from $400 to 450$ per month.

“I have observed that online learning is not really effective and it even causes some negative effects to children,” he stressed.

Cheang Sokuntheavy, a mother of three students at the school, said because of similar reasons, parents want tuition fees lowered until further notice from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.

“We all agree to present a petition next week for intervention from Prime Minister Hun Sen,” she added.

School director Andre Struve, said in an email on Thursday that CIA FIRST has in place a very rigorous and robust Data-Driven Improvement Planning (DDIP) process where several data points are collected to make planning and instructional changes to optimise student achievement.

He said the data points include feedback from teachers and analysis of student achievement data to ascertain how the unit of study can be improved.

“Of course there are nuances related to online learning, and these will be picked up by the DDIP process,” he said.

Struve said the school has undertaken a detailed analysis of student achievement data, comparing onsite to online learning. He claimed that no statistically significant changes were found.

In many cases, he claimed that online student achievement outperformed onsite achievement.

Furthermore, Struve said, for many years, the school has had a social promotion versus academic retention policy in line with ACS WASC Guidelines.

Letter grades, credits and grade-point averages are of high importance at high school and there is a credit recovery programme in place to give the students the highest chance of graduating from grade 12.

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