The Higher Education Association has claimed that corruption in the education sector has almost been completely eradicated due to a series of reforms made by the Education Ministry that began in 2013.
During a Cross-Talk discussion with Khmer Times yesterday, HEA chairman Heng Vanda said corruption in the sector has decreased by 90 percent thanks to Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron.
“We see that the education sector in our country has improved and is getting better than before,” Mr Vanda said. “We are proud of Mr Chuon Naron because he made the education sector better. What is interesting is that corruption is almost completely eliminated.”
“I can say that corruption in the education sector has been reduced after reforms,” he added. “He has paid much attention to improving the Kingdom’s education sector. It is his policies that makes the difference.”
Mr Vanda noted that Mr Chuon Naron leads by setting an example on how the education sector should be run.
“If leaders are clean, then there will be no problems with money or corruption,” he said. “I can say that there is very little corruption now in the education sector.”
He noted that teachers and staffers no longer have to set up a side business in order to make ends-meet because their salaries were raised.
The National Assembly in November approved a budget of $915 million for the education sector in 2019, an increase when compared to 2018’s $848 million.
The budget allocation for next year will inject cash into teachers’ wages, school building and reforming seven major educational programmes. The minimum salary of each teacher will jump from about $285 per month to $292 in January, and again to $300 by April.
The Ministry of Education has allocated its current budget expenditure for 2019 with 80 percent going toward teachers’ salaries and others employed in the education sector, Mr Chuon Naron said during a previous Cross-Talk discussion.
Ouk Chhayavy, president of the Cambodian Independent Teacher’s Association, yesterday said corruption in the sector has decreased, but noted Mr Vanda’s statement was misleading.
“I see that education in our country is doing better than before, but bribery is still going on – it’s just not as apparent as it used to be,” Ms Chhayavy said. “Corruption is a disease that we cannot cure.”
San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, yesterday said bribery remains a critical issue plaguing the education sector.
“Some teachers and staffers downtown still take money from students,” Mr Chey said. “This doesn’t happen in rural areas because students and teachers there are poor.”
Despite the claim made by Mr Vanda, Mr Chey said the Education Ministry must do more in order to curb corruption in the sector, including bureaucratic reforms.
“The ministry has to set up a management system for the allocation of budgets,” he said.