The number of Phnom Penh junior high school students who passed their high school entrance exams dropped by nearly 10 percent this year from last year, an education official said Sunday.
About 77 percent of the 13,673 Phnom Penh students who took the exam passed, compared with nearly 88 percent of 10,243 students who passed last year, Municipal Education Department Director Oum Hoeung said.
Results from other provinces hadn’t been totaled yet because remote areas of many provinces have not yet reported, Department of General Knowledge Chief Chroeung Limsry said Sunday.
With crackdowns on cheating this year, authorities expect the provinces to see lower scores as well, which is good news for reformers, Chroeung Limsry said.
“But gradually, in the future, there won’t be anymore [cheating],” he said.
Nonetheless, cheating was widespread, Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association official Rong Chun said. In some provinces, children were paying between $80 and $150 to bribe their way out of the annual exam, Rong Chun said in an interview Sunday.
CITA has called on raises for Cambodia’s teachers as the best way to end corruption and cheating. The association claimed Sunday it has expanded into 14 different municipalities and provinces and hopes to expand its power base from its current 850 members, Rong Chun said.
This year’s crackdown on cheating met with small success, Rong Chun claimed, because the government focused only on local teachers and minor mistakes, instead of leaders within the system.
“The Ministry of Education shouldn’t think about teachers’ mistakes, but concentrate on the top officials,” he said.
Cheating at the annual entrance exams, both at the junior high and high school levels, had become an annual occurrence. Increasingly, activists and donors have been focusing on reforming Cambodia’s education system as a key for the country’s development.