Students Still Cheating on Exams With Ease

More than 110,000 students from grade nine embarked on their round of annual exams Monday.

The day was spent on subjects considered easy, so all went smoothly, including cheating, students reported. In some cases, bribery was not that expensive, said a 16-year-old student who identified herself as Phalen.

“There were more than 20 students in my exam room, and it cost each of us less than $1 to pay the three monitors so that we could use the answer sheets,” she said.

About 10 police officers had been deployed around the exam center of Preah Sisowath high school in Phnom Penh, Phalen said. They were there to ensure se­­curity and prevent answer sheets from being handed over from the outside, she said.

No one tried to throw answer sheets over the school’s walls on Monday morning, said a police officer posted at Preah Sisowath who gave his name as Phearum.

People usually do this for mathematics exams but not so much during the Khmer literature, geo­graphy and chemistry exams that were scheduled for Monday and present fewer difficulties, he said.

Monitoring irregularities is no simple matter, Phearum said.

“In my experience, the police al­ways run into problems when we try to arrest people who are bringing answer sheets for math ex­ams,” he said.

But in many cases, getting ans­wer sheets from outside is not even necessary, explained a 15-year-old student at Preah Siso­wath who identified himself as Samnang.

“The majority of the students bring the answer sheets with them to the exam room in case they cannot get them from the outside,” he said.

Since monitors are paid, they confiscate some answer sheets from students, but only the ones that are not needed for the exams, Samnang said.

For students who don’t want to take a chance and whose parents can afford it, there is the middleman system. This guarantees that a student will pass an exam even if he writes the wrong answers, said Rong Chhun, president of the Cam­bodian Independent Teachers’ Association.

Some middlemen have been openly contacting parents in Kandal and Battambang provinces and in Phnom Penh and Si­ha­noukville municipalities, he said.

They charge between $60 to $100 for a student to pass his series of exams. Once they have paid, all parents have to do is to give the middlemen their child’s name, age, date of birth and his exam center, Rong Chhun said.

“This is really bad because some students from poor families who have studied hard and are trying their best to pass the exams are getting discouraged when they see lazy students who pass because of bribery,” he said.

One student assigned to the Santhor Mok high school’s exam center in Phnom Penh said that she had seen some middlemen solicit parents.

“I would not dare go home if I had passed my exams by bribing those officials from the Ministry of Education,” she said.

According to Rong Chhun, the ministry does not take action to stop those practices in provinces and municipalities because some high-ranking officials from the Ministry of Education are in­volved.

Chea Se, an undersecretary of state at the ministry, said he was seeking concrete information on bribery.

“I would like to appeal to all concerned institutions and to the general public to report to me any in­formation regarding bribery so that we can take legal action against corrupt” officials and middlemen, he said.

He added that he had witnessed no irregularity at the eight exam centers he visited on Monday.

Throughout the country, 4,548 ex­am rooms have been set up in 235 exam centers for this exam session, which ends tomorrow, said Chea Se. 111,128 students are due to take part in the session, he said.

Exams for 12th grade students will be held in mid-August.

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