Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Some teachers paid, some protest

Some teachers paid, some protest

Teachers sign for and receive compensation payouts
Teachers sign for and receive compensation payouts yesterday afternoon at Boeung Trabek High School in Phnom Penh, where the proposed Sleuk Rith Institute will be built. Heng Chivoan

Some teachers paid, some protest

Several teachers from Boeung Trabek High School demanded yesterday that the government altogether stop the development of Cambodia’s long-awaited genocide studies institute on their school grounds while officials offered them “encouragement bonuses” meant to hasten the building’s construction.

The teachers handed a petition to Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports representatives as the officials doled out the $600 they had offered to each of the school’s nearly 200 educators.

The petition, which had 163 signatories, outlined their refusal of the payments and requested the ministry halt its plan to build the Sleuk Rith Institute, which was designed by prominent architect Zaha Hadid.

The institute will not displace the teachers, and is set to be built on a 4,800-square-metre plot of government-owned land that houses an unused, dilapidated building that is part of the school. A new unit has already been constructed to replace the old building.

“We don’t even want to take any payments anymore,” said English teacher Pech Seakleng, as he walked out of the meeting with ministry officials along with several other teachers. “We think it’s a good idea but we just want to protect the land and stop the ministry from creating the institute here because our school is growing and having the big building here will take away space for children to learn.”

Last Wednesday, some teachers appealed to the ministry to increase the bonuses to $5,000 per teacher. The ministry, however, has repeatedly denied the request.

“They asked for money when they heard about the project, and we gave them concessions because we don’t want any problems,” Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said. “I’m very disappointed because they’re not looking at the project as something that is for the public good.”

He added that the institute, which will comprise a museum, graduate school, research centre, library and archives, will not displace the students, but instead, encourage further learning.

According to Chuon Naron, the ministry has also earmarked $1 million to beautify the school’s landscape and create sports facilities for the students.

“This is going to be a state-of-the-art building that will help them research human rights, not just nationally, but also internationally, so no, it will not negatively impact the students,” he said.

The minister was unable to confirm the final tally of the teachers that accepted the money, but Seakleng said some of the teachers who signed the petition still opted to take the cash.

One teacher, who accepted the bonus and asked to remain anonymous, said he was looking forward to having the institute nearby.

“We have no right to protest about this in the first place because it’s government land,” he said. “If they’re building a bad place like a club then I can understand that. But this is a good idea for everyone.”

Some Boeung Trabek High School students agreed, saying that having a massive library a stone’s throw away will help them improve in their studies.

“We have a very small library here so it will be great,” said grade 12 student Am Rithy Chan. “The only problem is that it would probably take a long time to construct, and it will bring a lot of noise to the school.”

The Sleuk Rith Institute is scheduled for groundbreaking in early 2015 and the project could take up to three years to complete.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the