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Financial ruin for private schools?

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron. KT/Siv Channa

If current COVID-19 restrictions continue, the approximately 300 private schools, educational and training institutions in Cambodia will have three to four months before they will be bankrupt, claims Mengly Quach, CEO of Mengly J Quach Education.

Speaking to Khmer Times, he said that since the pandemic began, schools have not had enough tuition fees to cover paying wages, rents, utilities and interest on loans and will have to suspend their operations in the near future.

“Rental fees are our biggest issue and while we acknowledge there has been some support from the government and financial institutions, this simply won’t be enough. As an educational institution, our funding requires more than just solely the tuition fee; we also rely on the school bus, food,

uniforms, books and other administration fees to support the business model. Now there are no students, all this income has been lost,” Mengly said. “While the school is not about 100 percent profit, we do have to make an income to ensure all our overheads are covered,” he said.

“For my education institution, Mengly J Quach Education, we have approximately 6,000 students and 700 teachers who need their monthly salary.

“I hope that this COVID-19 pandemic will end by May, however, if it doesn’t, we will face bankruptcy as my costings for both staff wages and loan interest is nearly $1.2 million per month,” he added.

In response, the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Hang Chuon Naron said this week that he has urged landlords, whose land has been leased for school buildings, to lower their rental fees.

He also called on the National Bank of Cambodia’s intervention to encourage all commercial banks and financial institutions that have provided loans to schools to lower their interest rates and delay payments to ease some of the current financial burden.

Pech Bolen, president of Westline Education Group and president of Federation of Education Services in Cambodia, told Khmer Times landlords needed to be made more aware of the current predicament.“If landlords could reduce their rental fees to 50 percent for this period, it would be of great help. However, they have only reduced it to 10 or 20 percent so far, with others not offering any reprise at all. Lenders will also have to be flexible, but this depends on the financial record of each borrowing school,” Pech said.

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