The pass rate of this year’s ninth-grade national examinations reached over 90 percent, Ministry of Education officials said yesterday.
Chea Cheat, director of the Ministry’s education, youth and sport department, said that this year’s number of ninth graders passing their exams surpassed last year’s 82.18 percent pass rate because students had studied harder.
“The reason many students passed the exam is because they’re studying harder,” said Mr Cheat, adding: “every student that passed the exam did so because they have good discipline and showed ability at the examination, not because they paid a bribe to a proctor to be allowed to cheat.”
Mr Cheat also said that it was just as difficult to pass this year’s examinations as it was to pass last year’s, adding that the questions on this and last year’s exams were equally challenging and that students this year had to answer a similar percentage of questions correctly in order to receive a passing score as did students last year.
The ninth graders’ success on their examinations is also due to the municipal and military police’s crackdown on youth crime, pushing so-called gangsters off the streets and into school, he added.
“I’m very happy to have passed the exams, said Dol Vantha, 15, a secondary student at Chaktomuk Junior High School in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district, adding: “I did not cheat on the exams.”
A 16-year-old student at Indra Devi High School, who declined to give his name, said that he failed the exams, adding that he had seen other students pay off the exam proctor to allow them to use cheat notes and copy off each other’s papers while testing. “I failed the exam because I didn’t cheat,” he said.
Rong Chhun, president of The Cambodian Independent Teacher’s Association, said the exam’s high pass rate did not necessarily mean that students were getting smarter.
“We can’t make the evaluation that education quality is good just based on the high passing rate on the exams,” he said, claiming that he was aware of an incident in Preah Sihanouk province where teachers demanded $80 from their students in exchange for passing grades on the examinations and failed students who did not pay the sum.