Nearly 100 students protested at the education office in Battambang province’s Bavel district yesterday over the decision to transfer two teachers from Bavel High School to the district education office.
Neang Chamnap, a civics and ethics teacher, and Rat Sareth, a maths teacher, were dismissed from the school after they damaged two concrete benches, cut trees on the school premises and broke the glass cover of an information board in acts they said were committed to protest school corruption, child torture and exploitation, and malicious teaching schedules.
Theng Thavleap, 18, a grade 12 student at the school, said students of three classes protested at the district education office to reinstate their two teachers, because they were worried about their studies being affected before the national exam.
“About 100 students joined the protest,” she said. “We want our teachers to come back to teach us because they teach well and our final exam is soon. If they are replaced, it will be hard for us to catch up with new teachers and it will disrupt our learning.”
“We don’t have an answer yet from the district office because they said the transfer of the two teachers was made according to a decision from the provincial department,” she added.
Ms Thavleap vowed to continue the protests if the teachers were not reinstated.
Mr Chamnap acknowledged that he destroyed school property, but said it was in protest against unfair conduct at the school.
“I did something a bit too extreme and I would like to pay for that, but my actions were to protest over the school director committing corruption, torturing a child by putting chilli in their mouth as punishment, and designing the teaching schedule to persecute teachers,” he said.
He said that his wrongdoing could have been addressed with a warning or meeting rather than a transfer, which he believes was made because of the corruption he and his colleague were shedding light on.
Mr Chamnap added that he planned to appeal the transfer to the Ministry of Education if it were not reversed.
School director Ho Vuthy denied allegations of corruption, child torture or exploitation at the school. “There is no such thing happening. When they destroyed school property, they just baselessly threw the accusation and incited the students to protest. The transfer was intended as an education to the teachers.”
Provincial education department director Ngy Set could not be reached for comment.