Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

High School Director Probed for Alleged Misuse of School Funds; Teachers Call For His Dismissal

Motorists ride past Chea Sim Chhouk Va High School, on March 26, 2024. (CamboJA)
Motorists ride past Chea Sim Chhouk Va High School, on March 26, 2024. (CamboJA)

Some 200 students and teachers of Chea Sim Chhouk Va High School in Prek Pnov district in Phnom Penh are demanding the removal of the school director for allegedly misappropriating school funds and for his lack of leadership.

A complaint has been filed with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport by the students and teachers who organized a protest on March 21, calling for an investigation by the ministry and Anti Corruption Unit (ACU). They alleged that the director’s action has impacted the school’s progress.

According to a video interview on social media, Chan Huot, a teacher in the school, alleged “irregularities and a lack of transparency under the leadership of the school director, named Bun Mony”. 

She said the funds raised by the school through stall rental and motorcycle parking were not made public. There was also no proper bidding conducted for the motorcycle parking fee.

The allocation of teaching hours is also biased, as some teachers teach throughout the week, while those who “side with the director” teach only one day, she alleged.

“We are experiencing a lot of injustice, like the biased teaching schedule. Some teachers teach only one day, some teachers teach for the whole week while other teachers, who actively teach, are insulted by the school director,” Chan said. 

She also alleged that there has been “no significant development under the director’s leadership”. In addition, there is no garden and a constant supply of water and electricity.

“The toilets are broken with no repairs carried out, making it difficult for students and teachers to use them. Where is development?” Chan said. “We want the school director changed.”

Another teacher, Pork Seth, said the reason why they wanted the school director removed was because there was no accountability in the funds which were spent on the school by the governing body.

“Let the Minister of Education send technical officers to inspect our schools and for the ACU to investigate,” he said.

Attempts by CamboJA to seek school director Bun Mony’s response proved futile as his phone could not be reached. 

The high school’s vice director, Heang Samedy, declined to comment when contacted by CamboJA via phone. “I don’t want to say anything, thanks.”

Teacher Kath Nary wants the director to leave because they found several discrepancies under his leadership such as “corruption, bad leadership and nepotism”.

“He does not have an expenditure list. Most of the school’s development expenses are supported by benefactors but we didn’t see the school using its own budget to develop the school,” Nary told CamboJA.

Nary hopes the relevant authorities will investigate this issue for the sake of the school and students in the community. Failure to look into the matter will affect the education quality and the young generation’s future. “The lack of transparency in the use of money looks like corruption.”

Under Cambodia’s education system, schools are allocated annual funds by the government for building improvements and programs.

Ministry spokesperson Khoun Vicheka said an officer has been dispatched to investigate the case which has put a stop to the protest or gathering at school. The officer from the Department of Education is working on this issue and the result of the investigation will be revealed upon completion. 

“MoEYS has prepared a team which is led by the education department to investigate. The protest has stopped. Currently, a solution is being drawn up, so there’s no result yet,” said Vicheka. 

In 2021, non-profit organization, International Budget Partnership, ranked Cambodia’s transparency 33 out of 100 in their open budget survey, almost similar to its 2019 score. “A transparency score of 61 or above indicates a country is likely publishing enough material to support informed public debate on the budget,” it said.

Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) Cambodia reported that transparency in Cambodia’s budgetary process between 2018 and 2023 was low and lacked sufficient regulation. It ranked Cambodia 150 out of 180 countries in its 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Ouk Chhayavy, president of Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, told CamboJA that “school directors and faculties in some schools are corrupt, embezzling school budgets which are allocated by the state annually”. As a result, the quality of the education system as well as teachers and students are affected.

“I urge the ministry to ensure that school heads spend money transparently and if any irregularities are found, the principal should be removed so that teachers are not discouraged from teaching,” Chhayavy said.