With police and military police guarding examination centers, more than 90,000 junior high school students sat Tuesday for the first day of the two-day national high school entrance exam.
Officials and observers agreed there was less cheating than during last month’s baccalaureate exams. Chhroeung Limsry, director of the Ministry of Education’s secondary education department, attributed the improvement to security keeping students’ relatives away from testing rooms, where they could pass the students answer sheets.
The ministry cooperated with the Ministry of Interior to ensure local authorities would be present at the 193 examination centers, he said. Students could not bring answer sheets or mobile phones into the rooms. “So far we have not caught proctors accepting bribes from students, we just heard rumors,” Chhroeung Limsry said. “If we catch them, we will disqualify them immediately.”
However, at Chaktomuk Junior High School, exam answer sheets were displayed for sale in a nearby copy shop. Despite a Ministry of Education directive, police did not close the shop.
“We deployed [district] police officers to prevent students’ relatives from throwing answer sheets into the classrooms,” Phnom Penh Municipal Police Deputy Chief Moung Kim said.
He said the more than 200 deployed police had been warned not to accept bribes under threat of punishment. “If they accept bribes…they provoke chaotic problems,” he said.
One student who took the exam at Baktuk High School said test-takers there donated $1 each to the proctor to persuade him to let them use answer sheets, but the proctor refused the money.
“This is behavior that can defame me,” the student recalled the proctor saying. He collected their answer sheets, but didn’t fail the students. Another student said students gave 2,000 to 4,000 riel (about $0.50 to $1) to their proctor, who then allowed them to use answer sheets.
Cambodian Independent Teachers Association President Rong Chhun said it was an improvement over the high school exams. “No students’ relatives handed answer sheets to the students,” he said. “And the proctors received fewer bribes.”