ACU Threatens Jail for Students Caught Cheating

The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) will join with the Ministry of Education this year to curb cheating during national-level high school and junior high exams, according to ACU chairman Om Yentieng.

In order to eliminate old habits of purchasing answer sheets and paying bribes to exam monitors, Mr. Yentieng promised that teachers and students caught cheating would be sent to court and imprisoned if they were found guilty.

“The anti-corruption education for secondary school from grade 10 to grade 12 is a beginning point for students’ behavior change for avoiding to commit immorality,” Mr. Yentieng said Tuesday during a training course on eliminating corruption from schools.

Mr. Yentieng told 150 trainee teachers from across the country to not only help monitor the exams—scheduled for July and August—but also to compile case files for use against offending teachers and students.

NGOs and other civil society organizations will also be invited to monitor the exams, Mr. Yentieng said.

Mr. Yentieng personally invited Rong Chhun, president of Cambodian Independent Teachers Association and an adamant critic of the CPP government, to be one of the monitors.

Earlier this year, Mr. Chhun organized a teachers’ strike demanding a salary of at least $250, arguing that teachers would not take bribes if they pay was adequate. Teachers currently receive salaries of about $100 a month.

Mr. Chhun said Tuesday that Mr. Yentieng’s threat of arrest for students and teachers caught cheating did not fit the crime.

“It is too serious if the students are arrested for paying little bribes for proctors,” he said, referring to test monitors. “The ACU should think of other alternatives to take action against students for paying bribes to proctors.”

The measure is part of the Ministry of Education’s campaign to crack down on corruption in schools, part of the government’s post-election reform agenda.

Speaking at the Ministry of Education’s annual meeting on Friday, Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron announced that the high school national exam would take on central importance in determining which students receive scholarships to state universities.

Previously, exam scores were combined with end-of-semester grades—often inflated by teachers in exchange for bribes from students—in ranking high school graduates. Now, high schoolers will simply have to pass their classes in order to take the national exam.

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