A recent UNESCO press release said Covid-19 has affected more than 200,000 teachers and school personnel in Cambodia and teachers have had to adapt to new teaching styles to cope with the pandemic.
Issued in the context of World Teacher’s Day on October 5 under the theme “Smart Teachers for Digital Education”, the press release said Covid-19 has affected nearly 1.6 billion learners at all levels and 63 million primary and secondary teachers in more than 190 countries.
In Cambodia, 113,000 school personnel, including 93,225 teachers, were affected.
“Following school closures on March 16, 2020, and the launch of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport’s continuous learning programme, teachers rose to the challenge. Within a very short period of time, teachers, the frontline workers of the education sector, had to adapt to new, challenging methods of teaching,” the press release said.
UNESCO said teachers had to adapt to new, challenging methods of teaching and learning by incorporating distance learning methods into their practice and making home-visits to their students to ensure they continue to learn.
Tin Chhaysreng, a teacher at Kok Banhchoan Primary School in Chaom Chao commune, in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, said during the pandemic, teaching and learning had changed per new guidance of the ministry. The school, he explained, had to take documents from the ministry to bring to students at their homes each week. Teachers had to monitor students’ learning and assignments.
“We let the students come to take documents for home education every Saturday. We also get old assignments handed to them on the past Saturday for checking. We don’t teach the students directly, so they have difficulty studying,” he said.
Chhaysreng said during the pandemic, teachers were paid their salaries as normal.
On Wednesday, the education ministry announced that it will mark World Teacher’s Day on Monday under the theme “Smart Teachers for Digital Education” at the National Institute of Education with teachers, education staff, the Khmer Academic Staff Association, the Cambodian Higher Education Association and representatives of relevant development partners.
Education ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said on Thursday that there are about 120,000 employed teachers in the Kingdom. The ministry focused on promoting qualifications and living standards of teachers to elevate education quality as stipulated in the Education Strategic Plan 2019–2023. Hopefully, teachers intend to join the government in developing human resources to turn Cambodia into a developed country by 2025 and an upper-middle-income country by 2030.
Soveacha said: “In this context, teachers play a crucial role in elevating learning and teaching quality, especially in the context of Covid-19.”
He added that in 2015, teachers were paid between 500,000 ($122) and 1.2 million riel ($293) per month. This year, teachers were paid between 1.2 million riel and 2.1 million riel per month.
“The education ministry would like to thank teachers, professors, academic staff at all levels and relevant sides for making efforts to fulfil their duties responsibly and with a patriotic conscience. This effort contributes mainly to elevating the quality of human resources in Cambodia,” he said.
Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (Cita) president Ouk Chhayavy reiterated calls for the government and the education ministry to pay more attention to the teachers’ livelihoods. Teachers should not have a second job, Chayavy said.
“The government should do something to continue raising the salary of teachers to two million riel because currently, some teachers have yet to be paid up to two million riel. We also want the education ministry to urge teachers to teach about Khmer history. Hopefully, students can learn about their history,” she said.