Officials Deny Leaks As Cheat Sheets Sold

Most of the 159,724 ninth grade students taking sitting for national examinations this week will be sweating under the pressure of last-minute studying.

Others may not be so worried–especially if they have picked up an advance copy of the test papers, which were apparently being offered for sale at stalls and shops around the capital yesterday.

As exams got underway at 347 schools throughout the country yesterday, vendors were seen selling what appeared to be exam papers in the streets around schools in Phnom Penh. An array of purported test papers and putative cheat notes were on display outside one shop near Bak Touk High School in the capital’s Prampi Makara district. The owner, who declined to be named for fear of arrest, said she had copies of all the tests students would be taking.

One customer at the shop, who wished to be identified only as Piseth, said he was buying papers and cheat notes “for his friend’s brother.” He said he would give the exam paper to his friend to study overnight.

Kuoch Chou Tieng, a secondary student at Chaktomuk Junior High School in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district, said she found the exams, which conclude today, quite easy because she had studied hard. She also said she knew of many students who had purchased exam papers and memorized them and did not think this was fair to those who studied.

“It’s wrong. They are not thinking,” she said.

The owner of a stall near Chaktomuk school, who also declined to be named, said hundreds of students had bought papers from her. A reporter was able to buy a copy for $3. Pocket-sized notebooks crammed with cheat notes on every subject were also on sale for around 1,500 riel each.

“They are a small size so they are very easy to take into the exams,” she said, but refused to say where the material came from. Asked if she was worried about police, she said she was willing to take the risk. “I’m afraid but the students need these,” she said.

Education Ministry officials were quick to deny that material from the tests had leaked out.

“The documents for sale are fake,” Chroeng Limsry, director for the ministry’s secondary education department, said yesterday. He said the originals were “kept in a safe place.”

“Every year we work very had and take all possible measures against cheating,” Secretary of State Mak Vann said in an interview Sunday. “Most likely there are rumors [of leaks] but it is just hearsay.”

Mr Vann said police were stationed outside schools to guard against outside interference. He added that Education Ministry officials and provincial authority representatives were checking students’ belongings and confiscating possible cheating aids as they entered.

Some students claimed it was not difficult to smuggle notes into the exams in spite of these precautions. Secondary student Leakhena, 15, said she knew some of her friends had used cheat notes and that it had been easy to avoid detection.

“Just be careful to watch [the examiner] so they don’t see,” she said.


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