The Phnom Penh municipal Department of Education, Youth and Sport has instructed the management committee of the Neak Oknha Moha Pheakdey Hun Neang Yamabiko Primary School to stop charging parents of students 20,000 riel ($5) annually after it was determined that the fundraising scheme was technically flawed.
This came after the department investigated a letter that circulated online from the school’s administrators requesting support from parents of Grade 1 students at the school in O’Bek K’am commune of Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district.
Some parents supported the fundraising idea to develop the school further, while others reacted negatively to the plan.
Department director Hem Sinareth told The Post that after a thorough investigation, it was found that the school administrators had actually intended to raise funds for development on campus, but there were still errors in the manner in which they went about it and other problems that this method raised that made parents unhappy and the plan unwise.
He said that with the fundraising, he invited school management to a meeting on July 19 and they discussed what was going on.
“The school staff wanted to improve the quality of the school, an initiative which was organised by school management. But technically and procedurally, they did this the wrong way,” he added.
He continued that the mistake was made by the school management committee and it was compounded by the agreement of higher authorities in the district. The administrator is required to make a plan for the development of the school and to meet with all parents prior to moving forward with anything like a fundraiser, but he failed to let all of the parents know about it.
“For example, there are 30 to 40 students per classroom, but he meets with only five parents per classroom. He does so in all classrooms and then those parents agreed and did not mind... But only five people agreed, and he takes this as a consensus among parents that the school can charge them 20,000 riel per year to pay for the development of the school,” he said.
He stated that after finding problems with the manner this plan was carried out, the department had instructed the school management committee to stop raising funds and return the funds already raised to the parents and to consider inviting them to a meeting to discuss the development of the school with everyone present who is interested in being there.
Sinareth continued that if the school management committee wanted to call for further fundraising, it would be necessary to plan and hold a meeting to inform all parents in order to avoid problems from those who are not happy because they did not attend the meeting since they did not know about it.
Nouch Sarin, the principal of the primary school, could not be reached for comment.
The education ministry advised all schools that they could raise funds from private donors to help develop their facilities, but they must follow the mechanisms laid out by the ministry.
The first step the ministry mandates is to establish a committee made up of school authorities and parents. Meetings must be held and a precise plan laying out the expenses and improvements must be developed and parents would then donate money on a voluntary basis only according to their ability to contribute.