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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Only 30 pct passed exam: PM

A teacher guides students through exercises in Phnom Penh in March
A teacher guides students through exercises in Phnom Penh in March. Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday that only 30 per cent of the nearly 90,000 grade 12 test-takers passed this year. Pha Lina

Only 30 pct passed exam: PM

Pre-empting the official announcement of the national exam results, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday declared true his prediction that most grade 12 students would flunk the high-stakes test.

Only 30 per cent of the nearly 90,000 test-takers achieved a passing score this year, according to the premier.

“An educational reform is now going on.… It’s not like before when more than 80 per cent passed,” he said at a ceremony at the Peace Palace yesterday.

The prime minister blamed this year’s dismal results on stricter measures against formerly widespread cheating and test leakage, and repeated his decision to hold a retest on October 13.

Hun Sen also declared yesterday that from this coming academic year onwards, school will start in October, one month later than usual, in order to accommodate flooding.

The new school year will run from late October or early November until July.

The latest of the prime minister’s recent slew of education pronouncements was met with criticism yesterday from educators, who took issue with the one-man program.

“The prime minister just uses a microphone and a stage to announce education reforms or changes without any real plan,” said Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association.

“Like setting a new date for the beginning of the school year due to floods, the government only has to shout and it is done, [but] they should at least issue a directive first.”

Officials from the Ministry of Education could not be reached for comment yesterday.

However, in an effort to contextualise this year’s national exam outcome, the ministry posted on Friday the test results from the 1980s onwards.

In 1994, the ministry figures revealed that only 4 per cent of students passed. The number of passing students increased every year onwards, however, until last year when 87 per cent passed. From 1995 to 1999, each initial exam round was followed by a retest, setting a precedent for this year’s redo.

Correction: An early version of this article incorrectly stated that 93,000 students took the year 12 exam this year. The figure has been corrected to nearly 90,000 students.
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