Exam Bribes On the Rise

The number of students bribing officials to raise their semester exam scores has increased in a relatively new form of education corruption, officials said Tuesday.

Tep Sovannaroth, a math teacher at Boeng Trabek high school, said he believes about

15 percent of students at his school bribe principals to improve their semester scores, which are ad­ded to marks on the final exam to produce a final grade.

Previously, few students bribed officials for semester scores, but more students caught on after the semester exam this month, he said.

The bribery for the semester scores started on a small scale in 2001, said Rong Chhun, Cambo­dian Independent Teacher’s Association president.

“But currently it is on a larger scale and very open,” he said. “The Ministry of Education must take action against this type of corruption. It is very unjust for those students who don’t have the money to buy the scores but study very hard.”

Chhroeung Limsry, secondary education department director, said ministry officials have continually warned people against exam bribery. It is useless to pay for the semester scores, he said, because checks in an education computer system reveal cheaters to the ministry.

Rong Chhun, an opposition supporter, said he believes that the political deadlock has loosened law enforcement, allowing bribery to extend to exam scores.

The standard price for buying scores from the principal is $20 to $30, he said. Teachers often act as intermediaries and can earn a $5 commission, he said.

A Preah Yukunthor high school student said that she paid her principal $23 to increase her semester scores. “I will pay again in the second semester…so I can easily pass the examination and get a good grade,” said the student, who refused to be identified for fear she would fail. She said her friends at several schools throughout Phnom Penh have been paying for semester scores.

Preah Yukunthor Principal Kuoch Sannkouy said he never accepts money for exam scores. “I have never heard of this kind of corruption,” he said.

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