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Private schools get NSSF break while parents protest fees

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The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has postponed National Social Security Fund payments for private schools. Hean Rangsey

Private schools get NSSF break while parents protest fees

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has decided to allow private educational establishments to delay paying a fixed levy for six months to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).

The decision was made at the request of th​e Cambodia Higher Education Association (CHEA) on April 10.

A letter dated on April 23 from Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Sam Heng was sent to CHEA chairman Heng Vanda.

He wrote that the ministry will allow the association’s 113 educational establishments to delay payment from April to September.

“In case the Covid-19 situation ends before September and a government notice is issued requiring educational establishments at all levels and of all kinds to run again, they are obliged to pay from that month,” the letter read.

The decision was made by the ministry just as some private educational establishments are facing protests by parents.

On Saturday, parents of students at the private CIA First International School demanded a 50 per cent discount on tuition fees for students in grades 1-12 and fees for pre-school to be suspended.

The demand was made after the school said it would lower the tuition fee by only 15 per cent for students in grades 1-12 and by 25 per cent for those in pre-school.

On April 22, 97 families gathered to protest in front of the Paragon International School to demand a 30 per cent discount on tuition fees for all levels of studies, while students are studying online.

They also demanded that the 2020-2021 academic year enrolment be delayed.

On Friday, the CHEA appealed to parents to fill up the lower tuition fee forms and not to protest in front of schools to prevent Covid-19 infections.

The appeal was made as the CHEA claimed that private education establishments are also being hit hard by Covid-19, since it was announced that education services had been suspended since March 14.

“The CHEA firmly believes that parents or guardians of students will join [the association] in making concessions to each other and being very patient in a win-win solution for all to get through this difficult stage,” its letter said.

The CHEA said private educational establishments were running into difficulty and were hit hard with paying staff salaries, rent, interest and the principal to banks apart from other expenditure. The number of students was also on the decline.

Additionally, some private educational establishments have proactively decided to lower tuition fees themselves.

Lim Sok, whose children study at CIA, said that until now, the school had not yet decided to accept the request from the parents, despite two protests.

He said parents have now agreed to a 45 per cent lower tuition fee.

“My two children study at the school. I pay the school around $10,000 for books, technology and school fees. What we ask is they lower the fee for three months due to the Covid-19 virus,” Sok said.

Ministry of Education spokesman Ros Soveacha said the government had encouraged all the private schools to hold talks with relevant parties to find a common solution.

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