Booklets purportedly containing the questions and answers to the 12th grade exams could be had for 2,000 to 3,000 riel
With police and military police stationed outside schools and testing centers Monday, grade 12 students nationwide began taking their mandatory high school examinations.
The exams, which will continue through Wednesday, have been plagued by cheating in past years, and despite the heavy security presence, students appeared just as eager this year to do whatever it takes to gain an advantage.
Hean Chandaroth, 18, took his exam at Chaktomuk primary school and said during the exam break Monday that the subjects were hard and the teachers proctoring the exam were strict. He also said that he and his friends tried to use cheat sheets with the answers printed on them but that the proctor confiscated them immediately upon entering the classroom.
“I want to pass the exam because I want to study Information Technology at a university,” said Chandaroth, adding that using the answer sheets would have added to his confidence in passing.
According to a statement released Thursday from the Education Ministry, 88,698 students are taking the high school exams at 155 exam centers across the country. Students were tested in Khmer literature and chemistry Monday morning, and eight students who gave interviews during the break at Chaktomuk agreed that chemistry was more difficult than Khmer literature. Most students did not want to reveal their names because they admitted to attempting to cheat.
Some students were also seen purchasing small booklets purporting to contain exam questions and answers at a street table near Chaktomuk primary school on Norodom Boulevard during their exam break Monday. The woman selling the booklets said they are sold for 2,000 to 3,000 riel each but would not reveal where she obtained the material.
Chroeng Limsry, director for the ministry’s secondary education department said, “The businesspeople do business every year to sell answer sheets.” He added that these answers are not correct, and that he would like parents to push their children to study harder so that they will not rely on buying answers.
Mr Limsry said there rumors have been floating around for several days that the subjects had been leaked after being sold for a high price but that these rumors were completely false.
“I guarantee that no exam subjects are leaked,” he said. “I created the exam questions myself. I guarantee to put my life on it.”
As of midday Monday, Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said he had not received any word of cheating occurring. “It’s better this time than years before,” said Mr Sopheak, adding that the security this year has improved.
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association had an opposing view Monday. He said by telephone that he visited testing centers and the situation was not being controlled as it should be. He said that while it appeared quite outside the centers, students were trying to pay off proctors and engaging in cheating.
“I saw with my own eyes – students in the exam room calling their relatives outside by phone and receiving answers,” he said. “It was very bad looking.”