Oddly Enough

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The Independent Online
Cash for questions: Cambodian primary schoolchildren in Phnom Penh are having to cope with an unlikely gang of school bullies - their teachers. A local newspaper reported on Sunday that some primary school children in the Cambodian capital are having to go without their break- time sweets because teachers are demanding their pocket money in exchange for giving them good marks. "I have to pay 400 riel (about six pence) a day to my teacher, otherwise I'll have a big problem," one pupil told the Cambodian-language newspaper Chakraval. "The money that Mum and Dad give me for a snack when I'm hungry, I have to share it with my teacher so I can join the class like everyone else," the unidentified pupil said. "If you don't pay $10 to your teacher, don't expect to pass your tests," said another. The newspaper said that teachers who did not get paid by the children would sometimes "scare" children in their classes, although it did not specify how.

Bangs for your buck: A substitute teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina, has been fired for handing out bogus "sex-dollar" bills to pupils, parodying Bill Clinton's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The bills were distributed by the teacher as "prizes" to students at the John Chavis Middle School. "This was unacceptable behaviour and the substitute teacher has been dismissed," said Bonnie Reidy, a spokeswoman for the school.

Boys will be girls: Chile's Supreme Court ruled last week that individual schools have the power to stop students with long hair or earrings from entering classrooms. The decision did not mention the students' sex, but was understood to be aimed at boys, who are trying to be trendy in this socially conservative nation. The court's ruling ends a long-standing, simmering dispute over whether elementary and high schools have the authority to send home pupils whose looks are considered inappropriate by their teachers. Ironically, Marcelo Rios, (pictured left) the Chilean tennis idol, is well known for his shoulder-length ponytail. But Rios, ranked number three in the world, in fact dropped out of school to concentrate on training and improving his game.

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