A Cambodian Independent Teachers Association poll finds that more than 50 percent of educators seek outside income to supplement low salaries.
CITA President Rong Chhun speaks at a press conference releasing CITA teacher survey results on Wednesday at the organisation's Phnom Penh headquarters.
MORE than 50 percent of primary and secondary school teachers said in a recent survey that they were unable to stick to a regular teaching schedule because their salaries were too low.
Of 460 teachers who participated in the survey, released Wednesday by the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA), 53.9 percent said they were unable to go to school every day because they needed to supplement their salaries with income earned outside the classroom.
The survey found that primary teachers make 172,000 riels (US$42) per month, lower secondary teachers 235,610 riels and high school teachers 339,380 riels.
CITA President Rong Chhun said low salaries cause teachers to "lose their honour and dignity" because they are unable to pay basic living expenses such as water and electric bills.
The release of the report comes on the heels of Prime Minister Hun Sen's claim, made last week during remarks at the National Education Congress, that the government wanted to raise teachers' salaries but was unable to do so.
"I would like to inform you ... those who are in charge of education ... I really want to raise your salaries but our budget is limited," Hun Sen said.
In response, Rong Chhun said last week that "the government has enough money to raise teachers' salaries and would do so if the prime minister wanted to". He called for salaries of between 800,000 and 1 million riels per month.
Calls for higher pay
A December 2008 survey released by NGO Education Partnership (NEP) found that teachers earn on average between $30 and $60 per month "depending on qualifications, years of experience and number of shifts worked".
We are seriously concerned about the education sector in our country.
The NEP noted in the report that it was unable to obtain salary information from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Reached by phone Wednesday, Nath Bunroeun, an undersecretary of state at the ministry, told a reporter he could not provide salary information without first receiving a written request.
The NEP survey, based on interviews with 144 primary and secondary school teachers in five provinces, cited a "general agreement" among district-level education officials that teachers' salaries should be between $100 and $150 per month, with Phnom Penh school directors calling for double that.
Only 2.6 percent of teachers participating in the CITA survey said Cambodian schools provided a high-quality education, with 52.4 percent saying the education students received was average and 45 percent saying it was poor.
"We are seriously concerned about the education sector in our country when 45 percent of teachers say the focus is on quantity of students and not quality," Rong Chhun said.