PHNOM PENH — In the shade of a tree in the grounds of the iconic Royal University of Fine arts, Saroeun Sothearoth sits quietly, seeking inspiration for a college assignment.
Saroeun is one of the thousands of students who four years ago failed the high school examinations after the government introduced strict new rules to combat cheating in the exams, known locally as the BacII.
In the first year after the anti-cheating measures were introduced by Education Minister Hang Choun Naron, more than 70 percent of students failed the exams. Previously, almost all students engaged in some form of cheating or bribery of teachers in order to pass the tests. Choun Naron had vowed that “only those who are competent will pass” and introduced supplementary exams to give those who failed a second chance.