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Students exit a Phnom Penh high school earlier this month during the nationwide exam period
Students exit a Phnom Penh high school earlier this month during the nationwide exam period. HONG MENEA

Bribes on rise for test takers

More than half a million dollars in bribes were paid to teachers during last month’s national exams by high school students in Phnom Penh alone, the authors of a new study have found.

The study, conducted by the Youth Resource Development Program, found that the average student spent $35 on bribes, up from $30 in 2012 – a 16.6 per cent increase, YRDP staff said yesterday.

“There were 19,078 exam takers in Phnom Penh. If you multiply that by $35, it’s a total of $667,756 spent in only two and a half days [of exams]. This does not include the money [students] spent on buying the cheat sheets outside,” Hang Soviet, senior assistant of the youth empowerment program at YRDP, said yesterday.

“This does not capture the nationwide total, but a few million US dollars is believed to have been spent on bribes [nationally], as students in the countryside bribed less.”

The study selected 376 students who sat the exam for in-depth interviews and is yet to be officially released to the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders.

Political analyst Kem Ley, who offered technical assistance to the YRDP, said cheating was having a corrosive effect on Cambodian human resources and education.

“It has become a culture of cheating. It has become normalised, and that is very hard to change” he said, adding that almost all students interviewed had paid bribes.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, said that the problem of bribery was getting worse.

“The ministry does not take any action whatsoever on this issue, so it’s on the rise from year to year,” he said. “It is a network of bribery and corruption, and the ministry does not have the will to get rid of it.”

Tun Sar Im, an undersecretary of state at the education ministry, dismissed the results of the study yesterday.

“This [NGO] needs to have clear proof in their allegations. We have to use the law to educate and punish the wrongdoers,” she said.



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