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Teachers petition to march

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CITA members gather to demand a salary increase at a protest in Phnom Penh last year. Pha Lina

Teachers petition to march

The Kingdom’s teachers want a raise. That’s the demand from a prominent teachers’ union, which has applied to march to the Ministry of Education on World Teacher’s Day to submit their salary request.

The Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA) wants teachers to receive at least $490 per month (two million riel), and other increased benefits for primary and high school instructors.

“We plan to organise a rally from Wat Phnom Park to submit a petition to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Then the petition will be submitted to Prime Minister Hun Sen,” said CITA president Ouk Chayavy.

Chayavy told The Post on Monday that CITA had applied to Phnom Penh City Hall last week for permission for the rally and march on World Teacher’s Day which falls on October 5.

She said CITA would invite teachers from across Cambodia to join them under the slogan, “The right to receive a good education from quality teachers”.

At least 150 teachers are expected to participate, she said, and that the government had given them little choice. Last year, on World Teacher’s Day, local media reported that Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that teachers’ salaries would be increased to about $250 per month from $240.

“Until Monday, we had not received news from Phnom Penh permitting us to march or not. Even though we are working for the benefit of teachers across Cambodia, they still might not allow us to march,” Chayavy said.

“Every year, we always commit to marching, whether we are allowed to or not. We are forced to do it,” she said.

Phnom Penh City Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey confirmed that CITA’s application for a rally had been received.

“We will discuss it with City Hall leaders on Tuesday in order to decide to allow it or not,” he said.

Ministry of Education spokesman Ros Soveacha said the ministry would look forward to CITA’s request for higher wages.

“The ministry welcomes the petition and will answer in accordance to actual situations because the ministry welcomes opinions from individuals and institutions,” Soveacha said.

But Chayavy expressed frustration at the government’s treatment of teachers. She claimed that Phnom Penh City Hall has never allowed CITA to march.

“We hope the government will accept our proposals, although they will only provide minor benefit to teachers and their families,” she said.

Chayavy said low salaries were not the only problem she sees in Cambodia’s schools.

“The Ministry of Education must prevent corruption in the education sector and provide supplementary funds for teachers’ wives and children, in addition to other benefits."

“Most importantly, they must halt discrimination and promote transparency,” she said.