increased police presence, cheating at Chaktomuk Middle School exams this year was not as blatant as in previous years, but students said fraud was rife, just more covert, during the weekend tests.
Ny Samrith, 25, waited outside the school Sunday for his 18-year-old brother, who was trying to pass the ninth grade tests. He said he gave his brother about $5 each day to buy the answer sheets and bribe the proctors, but said cheating is more difficult than when he was in school.
“Right now, it’s very strict,” he said. “You see police all around. You cannot throw answer sheets inside. But we bought the answer sheets first, so [students] can hide them on their bodies.”
The Ministry of Education recruited police to help curb endemic cheating that typified exams in former years, and the force has had some effect, said Rong Chhun, president of Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association.
“If we compare to last year, this examination’s cheating was less,” he said.
But he said cheating persists with reports that students can buy passing exam scores for $50 to $100. He added that bookstore and photocopy shop owners are supposed to close their shops during examination times, but will often bribe education authorities and police to remain open to sell answer sheets.
Near where Ny Samrith waited for his brother Sunday, the Chaktomuk Stationary and Souvenir Shop remained open.
At lunch, students gathered around the shop, where a table was piled with answer sheets. A shopkeeper sold answer sheets for about $0.12 and said, “Most, of the answers will appear on the exam.”
Students, on a break from the test Sunday, said some proctors allowed answer sheets and bribes while others did not.
About 50 meters away, Klauk Chandara, a military police officer, charged to prevent disorder and cheating with eight other policemen, said students were not allowed to buy answer sheets at the shop.
“Students gather there, but they do nothing,” he said.
Municipal Deputy Police Chief Moung Khim admitted that the Chaktomuk Stationary and Souvenir Shop was not shut down, but declined to comment on why he did not order it closed.
“I am very regretful that we were careless with the shop,” he said Sunday.
Municipal Education Director Oum Hoeurng, however, said he was unconcerned about the shop near Chaktomuk.
“I bought the answer sheet from the shop, but it did not match the questions [on the test],” he said.