Rural Students Decry Bribes For Certificate

banlung district, Ratanakkiri province – Teachers in Ratanak­kiri province’s only high school are charging students exorbitant amounts of money to secure their graduation certificates, former students said earlier this month, a practice officials said may be widespread throughout the country.

A former Banlung high school student said her teacher initially demanded $1,000 from each student to have exam proctors forge passing scores on the grade 12 final examination. She eventually paid $800.“We tried to bargain, but it didn’t work very well,” said Chum Koub-Chenda, 19.

Certificates of completion are required for students who wish to attend university. Chum Koub-Chenda is studying in the US.

Another former Banlung student Si Savat, 27, finished grade 12 in 1999. He wanted to attend university but lacked the $400 his teacher demanded, he said. He is a tour guide in Ratanak­kiri.

Final examinations are administered on the same day to all grade 12 students nationwide, with proctors from the Education Ministry in Phnom Penh monitoring tests in the provinces. This year, the exams will be held on Aug 5.

In 2003, 36 students in Rata­nakkiri, or 53 percent of the grade 12 class, received finishing certificates, said Chann Kham Khoeur, deputy director of the Ratanakkiri provincial education department. She said she did not know if teachers were demanding bribes .

Other education officials claimed the practice is widespread. “Selling certificates is very popular for education officials to be­come corrupt and rich persons,” said Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Inde­pendent Teachers Associ­ation. The going rate for grade 12 certificates in previous years has been $700 to $1,000, he said.

Pok Than, secretary of state for the Ministry of Education, said Monday the he would investigate the reports, but questioned their accuracy. “I don’t see how the teachers can ask students to pay, while knowing the students there [in Ratanakkiri] are mostly poor,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Kuch Naren)


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