The director of the Technical School for Medical Care in Phnom Penh said Wednesday that all but one of 56 students who were dismissed in February after being admitted halfway through the school year have been refunded their tuition.
Huy Sovat also defended the school’s decision to admit the students in the first place, stating that all of the dismissed students had taken the entrance exam and that the process of their selection had been transparent.
He admitted, however, that many had failed the entrance exam or gotten low scores.
Admitting low-scoring students brought in extra revenue to the school and was a practice shared by other Cambodian institutions of higher learning, Huy Sovat said.
“It’s a school practice to generate income for teachers,” he said, referring to the entrance fees the students were charged.
Two students contacted Wednesday confirmed that they had gotten their money back and also said that they had sat for the entrance exam but only scored high enough to earn a “reserve” position at the school.
“The school forced the students to take back [the money],” Proeung Minea, 22, said.
“I don’t want to take [the money] back. I want to learn,” she said.
School and Health Ministry officials claimed Tuesday that the 56 students, who had been admitted outside the original recruitment for the year, were ejected on Feb 3 after officials from the Japan International Cooperation Agency privately complained about overcrowding in the school’s new $6.2 million building, paid for by JICA.
A Health Ministry official also implied that Japanese officials sought to appear disinterested but were in fact involved in the school’s management.
Responding to the claims, JICA officials released a letter Tuesday evening, that was sent to the school in January. It argued that the students’ admission was irregular and that they had either failed the entrance exam or not taken it at all.
The letter also said that prior to the arrival of the 56, the school had already been overcrowded and that their presence overburdened the school’s facilities.
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