The Ministry of Education announced that high school students who failed the national exam will get their second chance to pass the test on October 13 and 14 following a decision by Prime Minister Hun Sen to hold a re-sit of the exam amid reports of critically low passing rates.
“Because of the high standards this year, the number of passers was low,” said Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron. “This was a very strict examination, but I don’t want to speculate” on exactly how many people failed. Results of the exam are scheduled to be released by the end of the month.
Mr. Chuon Naron called in the Anti-Corruption Unit to help regulate the exam on August 4 and 5, which he made the sole determinant of placement at state universities earlier this year. Mr. Hun Sen announced the re-exam last week.
“The prime minister decided on and authorized a second examination,” the education minister said. But Mr. Naron said he also fears that the quantity of passing grades will be too low.
“I am concerned that if many people fail, what will they do?” he said. “It’s obvious we need a second exam [because] we cannot have everyone fail.”
Mr. Naron said the second exam will have new questions, but be just as difficult as the first.
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, said his group does not support the second exam as it undermines the reforms.
“Students will not be prepared for a re-exam after studying for a month,” he said. “They do not have the knowledge.”
(Additional reporting by Alex Consiglio)