Despite rampant cheating, most students only manage the lowest possible passing score on their high school finals. Bribery allegations call into question whether grades reflect capacity
Students in Phnom Penh wait to get their results Friday.
FEWER students passed their high school exams this year compared with 2007, according to results released throughout the country Friday - despite widespread cheating.
Some 70.7 percent of the 55,178 students who participated received passing marks, compared with 72.7 percent of students who passed last year.
However, with allegations of widespread bribery in the classroom, many question whether the results reflect students' real capacity.
According to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports statistics signed by Ke Nay Leang, general director of education, Phnom Penh students had the highest pass rate in the country at 84.9 percent, while Stung Treng students had the lowest at just 39.6 percent.
Only two students in the country succeeded in getting grade A, the highest mark. Some 432 students got grade B, 3,289 got grade C, 14,769 got grade D and 36,706 students got grade E, according to statistics.
Chroeng Lim Sry, director of the Department of High Schools at Ministry of Education, told the Post Sunday that the lowest scores received this year were in the subject of Khmer literature. "While not many students received good scores for Khmer writing, they usually did OK in other subjects."
Chroeng Lim Sry acknowledged that cheating presented a problem during this year's exams. "We had over 79,000 students taking exams but only about 10,000 proctors to supervise," he said.
"We couldn't prevent cheating entirely, but we will punish those teachers who allowed for irregularities by suspending them from being proctors again."
Cheating, bribery rampant
Rong Chhun, president of Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, said that the fact that the majority of students passed shows a lack of strict measures to curb bribery. "There were many irregularities during the exam period," he said. "The exam results sometimes do not reflect students' real capacity."
Even though there is no concrete evidence of corruption, the fee for passing an exam can range anywhere from 7,000 riels in the provinces to 12,000 riels in Phnom Penh, Rong Chhun added.
Chroeng Lim Sry said that while some students have paid bribes, he could guarantee that no formal cheat fees exist. He added that during exam day, two teachers were fired for taking money in exchange for test answers.