Fifty-two students in Kampong Thom are blaming teacher favouritism and an inherently unequal system for preventing them from sitting the national exam and graduating this year.
The students, from Hun Sen Taing Kork High School in Baray district, filed a petition to the provincial department of education requesting permission to sit the diploma-qualifying test on August 4 and 5 even though they failed their grade.
As of March, a policy revision stipulates that in order to sit the national exam, grade 12 students must first pass the grade with a two-semester average score of 25 out of 50.
At the Baray district high school, a third of grade 12 candidates have not qualified for the exam – a result they blame on their teachers.
“Because we are too poor to pay for extra lessons, we did not do well,” said Chin Chhaylin, 17, a student who said he averaged towards the higher end of the class ranking, yet achieved only a 24.75 average.
“Some teachers do not teach well at the public classes, and only give good lessons in the extra classes,” he said.
On Monday, 30 of the disgruntled students travelled to Phnom Penh to protest outside the Ministry of Education.
Education Minister Hang Chhuon Naron said he has sent a delegation to the school to “check into the problem”.
Provincial officials have vowed to review the petition.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LAIGNEE BARRON