Teacher Savings Associations: A practical example to build trust among teachers

Teacher Saving Association workshop in Kampong Cham

Teachers present the progress and results of their saving associations

On 30 October, 2010, 45 rural school teachers (of which eight were females) participated in a workshop at Kampong Cham province. The participants were principals, vice principals and teachers representing more than 40 schools and 38 Teacher Savings Associations across seven provinces (Pursat, Kampong Chhnang, Takeo, Prey Veng, Kampot, Kampong Cham, and Svay Rieng). The workshop was organized by CEDAC in cooperation with the German Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF).

 This workshop as achieved following objectives and outputs:

  • Shared the progress of teacher saving associations and future plan
  • Shared and exchanged experiences, best practices and lessons learnt in managing Teachers Savings Associations
  • Discussed the possibilities of setting up a nation-wide network of Teachers Savings Associations
  • Strengthened the solidarity and motivation among teachers from different provinces in reinforcing and expanding the saving association
  • Contact persons for the provincial network of teacher saving associations were selected

 Existing associations were founded between 2007 and 2009, and started with 841 founding members. Currently, the number of members has increased to 1,222. The starting capital was 167,094,000 Riel (approximately $40,000 USD). Since that time, the total capital accumulated to 1,353,044,974 Riel (or $322,000 USD). This capital is being borrowed by its members and used for the benefits of small scale investments and in case of urgent need. 

It is important to note that there are more than 50 teacher’s saving associations in existence, but due to different reasons, not all representatives were able to join the workshop.

 At the end of the workshop, Mr. Va Sarun, the Principal of Baphnom high school and a leader of Teacher Savings Associations, stated, “I am very happy to meet my colleagues from different schools across Cambodia during this important workshop. I am convinced that the results of the workshop and the teachers saving associations will help to improve our relationships, improve our living conditions, and finally help to improve the quality of education for our children.”

It is one of the example what we can do to help people build more trust among people or colleagues. When I started the idea of having teacher forum in 2005 and introducing the concept of teacher saving group within schools, most of the time, I got the responses as follow: 1) We do not have money to save since our salary is small. 2) We do not trust each other. 3) What happens to our saving money when someone runs away with our money or do not pay back? My answers were always: 1) Since we do not have much money, the more the reason to start saving now. 2) That is why we should start with someone we could trust first, start with small group, with whom you can work with. 3) Create the statute and simple internal regulation together and try to think how to prevent what you fear of not happening in the future.

We do not want people to save why not saving ourselves. We, in CEDAC, started to save money when we created CEDAC with seven people, in August 1997. We agreed to keep 2% of our salary for saving purposes. Now, I save 15% of my salary in our CCC (CEDAC Credit Cooperative), which has around 200 members and roughly 400,000 USD as saving capital. We, therefore, have shared this successful experiences to all people we work with or encounter, so that more and more people start to value the saving culture and do save for own benefits and the benefits of the whole society.

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