Yeap Seng, a grade 12 teacher at Pursat town’s high school, had been warned by friends working at the Ministry of Education in Phnom Penh that his name had been put on the ministry’s black list for this year’s exams.
Confirmation came when he saw his name in a letter posted on his school’s notice board.
The letter, issued by the ministry and sent to provincial education departments in recent days, contained the names of 19 teachers who are barred from serving as examiners for two years, and 19 teachers barred for one year, for unspecified carelessness and irregularities while monitoring last year’s annual exams. In addition, 224 teachers received a warning to adhere to the ministry’s exam directives.
The letter is signed by Pok Than, secretary of state for the ministry. On Tuesday, he declined to comment, saying that he was in a meeting. Education Minister Kol Pheng could not be reached on Tuesday.
More than 100,000 students are expected to take part in the grade 9 exams on July 11 and 12, and more than 50,000 in the grade 12 exams in early August.
Since examiners receive from the ministry between 100,000 riel ($25) and 300,000 riel ($75) per exam, this is a severe blow for these 38 poorly paid teachers, said Rong Chhun, head of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association.
“The teachers have done nothing wrong. At the most, they should have received a first, second and, if need be, a third warning before being barred,” he said.
Last year, Yeap Seng monitored exams in Samraong district, one of the poorest areas of Takeo province, where students have no money to pay anyone a bribe, he said.
On the other hand, the directors and deputy directors of exam centers are much more at risk of corruption, Rong Chhun said. They are in a position to assign, for a fee, skilled teachers who can pass on exam answers to children of wealthy families during the tests, he said.