More than 5,600 people have volunteered to monitor the national high school examination next week, an Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) official said Wednesday, more than double the number of observers who supervised the test last year.
ACU chairman Om Yentieng told a gathering of volunteer observers at the Institute of Technology in Phnom Penh that 5,626 people had signed up to oversee the exam, up from about 2,600 last year.
“Anyone can volunteer to observe except for teachers—both private and public,” said Mr. Yentieng, whose unit, along with the Education Ministry, began cracking down on cheating last year after years of rampant corruption during the test.
The reform resulted in an initial pass rate of just 25.7 percent, the lowest since 1994, forcing officials to offer a second-chance exam for students who had failed, bringing to total pass rate to just above 40 percent.
Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron, who also addressed Wednesday’s meeting, said the penalties would be strict for the more than 88,000 students taking this year’s exam if they are found cheating.
Those caught using a mobile phone or other electronic device would be kicked out of the exam and given a score of zero, Mr. Chuon Naron said, adding that those caught exchanging test papers would fail the exam and be banned from taking the test next year.
For the most severe offenses, criminal action would be taken, the education minister told the audience.
“Students who have another person sit the exam for them will fail the exam and cannot sit for the next two years, and the one who sits in for the [student] will be sent to court to face the law,” he said. “It is a criminal offense.”
Mr. Yentieng said the recent arrest of a prominent opposition senator should serve as a warning to anyone thinking of trying to cut corners on the exam.
“The one who sits for another [student] will face the charge of the use of a forged public document like Hong Sok Hour,” he said.
According to Article 630 of the Cambodian criminal code, the crime is punishable by two to five years in prison.