As an estimated 40,000 high school 12th-graders finished the two-and-one-half-day baccalaureate exam, students and proctors at several Phnom Penh schools said scores continue to reflect whether students could afford to cheat rather than how well they studied.
Proctor Kouy Meng at Bak Touk Primary School said he took 2,000 riel bribes (about $0.50) from students, who asked him to turn a blind eye to smuggled answer sheets.
“I did not want to accept the money, but I was afraid students would beat me if I did not take it,” he said Sunday.Other proctors said they were beaten by students after class for refusing bribes, he added.
Kouy Meng and proctors who worked at Chaktomuk and Wat Koh junior high schools said their wages, which average $30 a month, make it difficult for them to survive without accepting bribes as additional income.
“I think cheating during examinations will continue forever because the government offers the teachers a salary too low to support themselves,” Kouy Meng said.
Cambodian Independent Teacher’s Association President Rong Chhun also said cheating is still rife.
Poorer students pay between 2,000 and 4,000 riel (about $1) to proctors in each of the 10 subjects to cheat using answer sheets bought beforehand, while wealthier students can pay a lump sum of around $1,000 to secure a passing grade.
Ministry of Education Secretary of State Pok Than said cheating occurs only in isolated instances.
He said the ministry is already doing everything it can to prevent cheating and will not do more with newly-appointed Minister Kol Pheng at the helm.
An 18-year-old student at Chaktomuk High School was unconcerned Sunday with the root cause of cheating. She only hoped she would graduate after paying $10 to proctors.
“I hope I will pass the examination because I was able to look at the answer sheet and cheat,” she said.
(Additional reporting by Solana Pyne)