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Cramming into extra classes ahead of exams


Students turn to the part-time school Chey Thavy in the hopes of getting admitted to competitive prestigious universities

While explaining a mathematical lesson to his calculus class in Chey Thavy part-time school, Chao Kek uses an amplifier to speak to hundreds of students packed in a big classroom.

“No school like this one is able to teach 300 students at once,” said Phoeung Sivon, the owner of Chey Thavy part-time school. He is aware of the popularity of this specially tailored preparation class for examinations. “Some even sit on extra chairs in order to study in the classroom,” she added.

Chey Thavy provides special intensive classes in a variety of subjects including mathematics, Khmer literature, chemistry, physics and others. Some of its classes start as early as seven in the morning and go on until 7pm, said Phoeung Sivon, “Before, the school even started earlier, but because the security of the students, the school has to start at this time.”

With a humble beginning as a small wooden flat that housed a few classrooms, Chey Thavy in its 17 years of existence has now expanded to 40 spacious and well-tended classrooms, said Chao Kek, a teacher at Chey Thavy. Chao Kek has taught for this school since it began operation.

The enrichment centre provides all forms of tuition and education support – including preparation for final high school exams, university entry exams and scholarship examinations. Chao Kek said that Chey Thavy is the most recommended and accepted place where students of all levels and backgrounds can receive support for their weaker subjects as well as acquire more knowledge or skills in areas they are strong in.

“Chey Thavy has even prepared students vying for entrance into Cambodian Institute of Technology, and the medicine faculty,” said Chao Kek.

According to Chao Kek, this school gained popularity during the early 1990s – it was then when the founder of the school created and conducted a customised preparation class for high school graduates to prepare for the state university entrance examinations.

Previously, the government switched to a system in which high school graduates with the best scores would receive a scholarship and enjoy the privilege of having the university entrance examinations waived.

“Chey Thavy School has become even more popular for the 12th-grade students from all over the country to seek good lessons, learn useful exercises, and benefit from thorough explanations. “The classes usually get bigger a few months before the actual final high school exam,” Chao Kek explained.

“It is the sole education centre for students that is important to their growth in understanding their studies because they ensure that only qualified and well-known teachers are used—some of the teachers also lecture in the university,” says Teng Chan Karuk Ratha, an undergraduate who used to study in Chey Thavy.

“Students are able to find teachers at the differing levels,” said Ratha, who is a former top mathematics student in the city. He adds: “Beginners can find simple and clear assessments that have easily understood exercises while more advanced students also come here to find the most challenging or stimulating exercises.”

“Classes are flexible and affordable. If students don’t need and wish to be excluded from any class, they do not need to attend those and don’t have to pay, ” said Phoeung Sivorn, a high school student in Phnom Penh.

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