On the cheating chain

On the cheating chain

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Methods of cheating widely used by students. Photograph: Phnom Penh Post

In the never-ending battle of trickery between teachers and students, there are no winners.

Cheating discourages self-development, ruining all chances of a brighter future. So there’s much to worry about, unless you aspire to be a swindler for a lifetime.

There’s ample evidence that the problem is a persistent one.

According to an equity study conducted in 57 institutions, “cheating plagues the educational system” and “discredits degrees earned in the Kingdom”.

Back in July 2009, Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Tha Piseth published a report in The Post, “Exam cheating a team work exercise”, revealing our favourite cheating techniques: consultations over mobile phones and crib sheets.

AFP reported a shameful case of fraud during the 2010 national exam.

“The students can cheat using notes they smuggle into exam rooms and bribe their supervisors,” AFP reported.

Thav Nimoul, a teacher at Dongkor secondary school, says the habit has a debilitating effect not only on individual students but also on the entire nation: “The students won’t be skilled enough to work. Consequently, it will result in lack of human resources and bad reputation on the international stage because Cambodian fresh graduates are unqualified.”

He suggests the next generations are also in danger.

Yet students have a hard time swallowing wise advice until it’s too late. Pech Sovannara, a student in year 12 at Porng Toeuk High School, is case in point. She sees that total neglect of studies is justified because all too many youngsters are occupied with their part-time jobs and household chores.

“I try to revise for exams, but because there are almost ten subjects I can’t memorise it all. Instead, I prepare ready answers on scraps of paper in case these questions turn up on the exam”, she confesses, adding that students cheat most often on social science tests because these require book, not general knowledge.

Chea Sovanna, who studies at a university in Phnom Penh, tried the destructive effect of long-run cheating on his own skin.

“I never focused on lectures, and would always find an opportunity to cover it up by cheating. I just wanted to pass and I didn’t care about my grades”.

Years on, lacking a high-school-degree, he admits to having trouble in keeping up with his study program: “Now I know it wasn’t right. University studies are very difficult as everything seems new to me,” says Sovanna.

The problem doesn’t end here. Bad performance can ostracise you once your school peers label you a dummy. “I feel embarrassed when I see my name on the ‘failed’ list’. No one wants to be my partner on team projects because I’m stupid.”

Sovanna is living testimony that cheating is a losing game.

Tharun Bun, a news reporter, agrees with the teacher in his article published in 2010 in the Post. He concludes that “children shouldn’t only be taught from textbooks -they should also be guided towards honesty and strong social values”.

He hopes that the government will give educational system more importance by “increasing wages of school teachers” – the only way to stop impoverished tutors from taking bribes.

It’s high time the youth exerted some effort investing in a better future. It’s worth a try – the prize is higher self-esteem and appreciation of your family as well as fellow Cambodians.

“I hope that next generations of students won’t follow in my footsteps. The future looks bleak for those who neglect education- everyone will look down at you and no one will employ you if you are stupid,” warns Sovanna.

Let’s take the words of our more experienced colleague into consideration and stop fooling ourselves.

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