Transparency NGO Pulls Out as Exam Monitor

Transparency International (TI) Cambodia on Wednesday announced it would not be dispatching observers to independently monitor the National High School Exams on August 4 and 5 after the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) and Education Ministry said they would not allow reserve observers at exam halls.

TI says its internal policies require the organization to dispatch reserve observers in case those registered are unable to work on exam day. Education officials, however, say they need to have an exact list of names as to who will be observing on the day.

For years, the national high school exam has been plagued with corruption and claims that students were paying up to $5 to teachers or proctors to be given copies of answer sheets.

In a bid to clean up the exam, which is now the sole factor in placement at state universities, the Education Ministry has directed additional funds to compensate proctors and put out a public call for outside monitors. The ACU even said earlier this year that students and teachers found to be cheating could face jail time.

In a statement, TI said the government’s policy of only assigning one monitor per room would prevent the NGO from implementing its scientific sample-based observation method, which would see observers fan out to randomly selected exam halls.

“Any absences of the observers will significantly affect the result of the report and become disqualified, thus TI Cambodia needs to have reserve observers. However, TI Cambodia is not allowed having reserved observers,” the statement says.

Ros Salin, the Education Ministry cabinet chief, said that he was not concerned that TI observers will no longer be participating in the exam monitoring process, because the public has faith in other observers, such as the ACU officials who will be monitoring the exams.

“To be part of it or not would not affect the examinations,” he said, “because at the moment, [teachers] are already scared of arrest.

“When teachers have been detected by observers, then the ACU will be informed,” he said, adding that the ACU, and not the Education Ministry, was in charge of overseeing the exam.

(Additional reporting by Phann Ana)

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