Despite unprecedentedly strict anti-cheating measures being implemented in last year’s grade 12 examinations, the Kingdom’s Anti-Corruption Unit pledged yesterday that punishments will be tougher still for proctors caught selling answers and accepting bribes this time around.
Offenders last year were punished only on paper, ACU chief Om Yentieng said at a gathering of more than 5,000 volunteer proctors yesterday, but those caught this year won’t be so lucky.
“We want to inform [everyone] about punishment,” Yentieng told the would-be test observers, who will be proctoring next week’s exam.
“Last year, we did not send anyone to prison for a single day, since we suspended all the sentences. But this year, suspects will be sure to be sent to prison.”
Yentieng went over a long list of offences that were discovered during last year’s exam: two proctors found to be taking bribes; four people, two from Phnom Penh and two from Takeo province, arrested for “faking” test papers; seven people caught in Svay Rieng and Kandal taking the test on behalf of others; and 24 others across the country simply caught cheating.
Yentieng said the suspects with the false test papers were sentenced to “at least two years’ imprisonment, but their punishment was suspended 100 per cent”.
The impostors who took the exam on others’ behalf faced one year’s imprisonment, “But we did not send them to prison.… The student candidates who hired somebody to take the exam for them [weren’t prosecuted], but they failed the exam based on the [Ministry of Education’s] principles,” he added.
But things will be different this year, Yentieng assured.
Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron confirmed that while his ministry would only set administrative disciplines for student violators, the ACU had the ability to dole out actual legal punishments to proctors and others.
“This is the freedom of the Anti-Corruption Unit,” he said.
San Chey, coordinator for the education monitor ANSA EAP, said yesterday that he hopes that Yentieng’s new warnings will translate to actual punishments being carried out this time around.
“Two thousand fourteen was the year to scare people, but this year, it’s time to implement real law,” he said.
“Therefore, I believe the number of criminal cases will be reduced. If you are arrested, you must go to jail.”
The grade 12 exams will take place on Monday and Tuesday, and will be sat by more than 88,000 candidates.
Last year’s exam was the first under a strict new anti-cheating regimen and saw test scores plummet accordingly.