AHEAD of secondary school exams scheduled for July 6-7, the president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association has issued a call to the Ministry of Education urging it to combat new graft allegations levelled at government officials.
Endemic corruption amongst teachers is widely acknowledged, with unions, donors and the government recognising that staff may be forced to resort to bribery to support their meagre incomes.
But now ministry officials have also allegedly been seeking bribes from students, using brokers to extort the money, union President Rong Chhun said. The brokers receive 20 percent of the bribe, while the rest goes to the officials, he added.
"A few days ago, we heard information from some towns and provinces that students have to pay US$50 in order to pass the examinations," he said.
"It is an outrage.... It means the examination becomes useless and students from poor families have to suffer an injustice. This kind of corruption has a negative effect on the development of our country," Rong Chhun added.
"The government must provide justice to hardworking students from poor families," he said.
Rong Chhun said that while he would continue to raise awareness about the increase in corruption, it was political will that would be the most important factor in determining how the exam system worked.
"Whether or not the [government] admits to corruption is of the utmost importance," he said.
When confronted with Rong Chhun's claims, the director general of the ministry's Education Department, Keuth Nayleang, was reluctant to respond.
"The Cambodian Independent Teachers Association always makes such claims during examination periods. I do not want to speak about this matter over and over again," he told the Post last week.
He added, however, that the ministry was improving its ability to combat corruption.
"We are in the process of implementing stricter and more effective measures to prevent corruption from being a problem," he said.