THE Cambodian Independent Teachers Association has appealed to the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports to strictly grade tests from the national junior high school examinations.
Rong Chhun, president of the teachers union, told the Post Tuesday the ministry needed to act to prevent bribery facilitated by middlemen.
"We would like the Education Ministry to be strict on criteria of grading tests," he said. "I think that bribery may begin on Friday this week when the grading period starts. If the ministry does not have the proper means to control such wrongdoing, our country will be full of disqualified students and poor students will be desperate, with no hope of justice."
Keu Naileang, director general of the ministry told the Post Wednesday the ministry had not heard anything about middlemen because they were "too busy to think about it".
"People who spend money to buy a certificate for their children are cheated because the examination and grades are done strictly," Keu Naileang said. "Punishment will be put on teachers or inspectors who violate the regulation."
But Rong Chhun said the middlemen were no different from last year.
The exam was done as usual, neither too strict nor too loose. The teachers under-stand and let them cheat.
"Every year is the same, though the number of case of bribery is varied. This year, it is a hundred percent sure that bribery will take place," he said.
"I think that the middlemen are government officers who take this opportunity to earn money."
Up until now, the association has not uncovered bribery cases by middlemen yet, however they say it is well known that it costs US$50 to $80 to pass an exam.
According to Rong Chhun's claims, the association received many phone calls during the three-day examination from students' parents negotiating the price of a certificate.
Among those parents, some called to complain that they were too poor to afford to buy a certificate for their children.
"A letter from the association was sent to the Education Ministry in mid-June, urging them to put their effort into preventing some officer from seeking clients for their under-the-table business," He said.
"Middlemen are everywhere, and they are usually paid $20 commission."
Lim Theng, a glass shop owner from Boeng Keng Kang 3, told the Post it was a simple matter.
"As parents, we are always concerned about our children's examination," he said.
"We are afraid that they will fail. We have spent a lot of money throughout their academic year. If they fail the exam, it would be a waste of time to start over again.
"My son and nephew are in the same examination room at Tuol Tompoung high school. They told me that the exam was done as usual, neither too strict nor too loose. The teachers understand and let them cheat."
Lim Theng said his son gave money to the teachers, but his nephew did not because he was an outstanding student and able to do the test.
"I have also heard about bribery between my neighbours and an officer at the Department of Education," he said. "They discussed quietly behind doors, so I could not hear the detail.
"My son said that he was not worried, because my nephew threw the completed answer sheet to him. They are close and helping each other.
"Even if bribery is commonplace, I would never bother myself and waste my money on such thing," he said.
Lim Theng said whether there was bribery or not, he only wanted examiners to give scores fairly to all students.
"Not different from my sons - other people's children also want to pass exam, have higher education and a bright future. Without fair grading, some students would fail the exam and end up in despair."
According to the Cambodia Independent Teachers Association, the examination was done a little better than in the previous year.
"As we observed during the three-day examination, the situation around exam buildings was just a little better than last year," Rong Chhun said.
"Despite the normality around the buildings, the examination room still filled with anarchic atmosphere. Money was collected and given to teachers to buy their permission to allow cheating in class."
He said it cost between 3,000 and 5,000 riel per student for one subject teacher, and on the second day at math session, the rate rose up to 10,000 riel.
Keu Naileang said he thought the teachers were not so thoughtless that they would barter their dignity and pride for such little money.
"I do not accept that teachers are bribed. Those who claimed like this should have proof to back up their words. They should not defame teachers on groundless rumour," he said.
"Concerning to the case of middlemen, please do not point your fingers at the ministry officers unless you can identify the person exactly so that I can easily deal with the matter."