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Cheats to face existing laws

If the stakes for Cambodia’s grade 12 national exam weren’t high enough already, any irregularities this year could result in automatic failure, school expulsion and potential legal action, officials said yesterday.

The punishments aren’t new – they were compiled in a 2011 education procedural policy – but the Ministry of Education’s commitment to enforcing the measures with the help of the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) is certainly unprecedented.

“We’re not reinventing the law, but instead better enforcing the policies and evaluating all recourse available,” Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said.

The ACU delineates on its website how cheating will be dealt with, including immediate failure and a two-year test-taking ban for bringing mobile phones into the exam centre, taking the exam for someone else or failing to follow the proctor’s instructions.

The examination period will also be shortened this year to avoid overwhelming students.

“The number of subjects will be reduced from the previous 10 subjects over two days,” Naron said. “We’re going to have six or seven subjects this year so students can focus on the most important material.”

The ACU yesterday also posted downloadable applications for individuals and civil society groups to volunteer as exam monitors.

Any monitors, exam proctors or education officials found supporting exam corruption will face legal action and possible jail time.

“The observers’ duty is to report irregularities to us, and we will prepare legal document and send lawbreakers to court,” ACU president Om Yentieng said.

Yentieng and the education minister yesterday both said jail time for cheating test takers wasn’t off the table for students considered legal adults, ages 16 and up, a measure condemned by some educators.

“I appreciate the steps taken by the ACU and ministry to prevent exam corruption, but jailing students is too severe,” said Chin Chanveasna, executive director of the NGO Education Partnership. “It is necessary to adequately address [cheating] and show the real capacity of the students, and ensure the students are learning and studying hard from the beginning.”



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