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Angry med students threaten test boycott

About 180 medical and dentistry students will refuse to sit the first government-ordered national exams, set to begin on Saturday, in protest of what they say amounts to discrimination, representatives of the students said yesterday.

Meng Hor, a representative of dentistry students, said the exams, which were approved by the Council of Ministers and Ministry of Health, discriminate against state university students as they are not compulsory for those studying at private institutions.

If the exams are not cancelled, “we will be willing to walk out . . . We will boycott the national exams,” Hor said.

The national exams – to be taken at the end of medical and dentistry degrees to determine whether students are qualified to practise – were approved under a sub-decree in 2007, however this is the first year that they are actually being held.

In a letter dated April 18, In Virak Cheat, secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, agreed to a proposal from Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng that students be required to “join national exams” between April 26 and May 3.

Later that day, about 100 students protested in front of the University of Health Sciences on Phnom Penh’s Monivong Boulevard, waving banners with slogans denouncing the lack of transparency and fairness in administrating national exams and calling for them to be cancelled.

The seventh-year dentistry students and eighth-year medical students had already begun their courses before the sub-decree was introduced and argue that it has been enacted too late to be a requirement.

“In reality, we are not afraid of the exams because we have finished our exams and theses. They have only just announced the national exams on April 7, allowing us only 10 days to register for them,” Da Ngel, a representative for the medical students, said.

Ngel appealed to Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday to intervene and scrap plans for the exams this year.

Minister of Health Bun Heng could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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