Phnom Penh Students Score Lower, But Cheating Persists

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.


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