A woman selling answer sheets and a man pretending to be a proctor were arrested by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) in Phnom Penh on Monday as some 60,000 students sat for the national high school exam for a second time, according to the Education Ministry.
“The Anti-Corruption Unit officials have informed the Ministry of Education that two people have been arrested,” said ministry spokesman Ros Salin.
According to Mr. Salin, the ACU arrested a woman attempting to sell answer sheets outside Bak Touk High School and a man posing as an observer in order to enter Sisowath High School, where he may have intended to sell answers or take the exam in place of a student.
“We have no more information from the ACU,” Mr. Salin said. “They both made a petty mistake.”
The roughly three-quarters of students who failed the two-day university qualifier in August under new, strict conditions were granted a second chance to pass the seven-subject exam.
ACU chairman Om Yentieng, who threatened corrupt teachers with jail time following the first exam, declined to comment on the arrests Monday.
Chhay Savuth, Mr. Yentieng’s deputy, who had been observing the exam in Kompong Cham and Tbong Khmum provinces, said he knew nothing about the arrests.
“In Kompong Cham, there was no corruption or students taking cheat sheets into classrooms,” Mr. Savuth said.
Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron, who enacted a sweeping overhaul this year of the national exam—which has been tainted in past years by teachers taking bribes in exchange for giving passing grades—also said he had no details of the arrests.
Mr. Chuon Naron said about 900 students failed to turn up for the first day of the exam in Phnom Penh and estimated that as many as 8,000 may have been absent across the country.
“I estimate that the number of students who took the first day of the exam to be about 60,000,” he said.
“I think the students were absent because they think their knowledge is lacking and that they would be unable to pass.”
After the first exam, teachers who for years had supplemented their meager incomes by selling answers or passing grades during the exam expressed anger with the ACU officials, who had been sent in to prevent such transactions.
Chuon Chiv, 20, who took the exam at Chea Sim Santhormuk High School in Phnom Penh, said he had planned to cheat during the second sitting, but was unable to do so because of the close supervision of ACU officials.
Mr. Chiv said his teacher caught him with a cheat sheet but did not report him to the ACU.
“I didn’t read the sheet because the teacher saw it and took it, because he was worried that he would have a problem,” he said.