The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports will hold the annual Grade 9 diploma examinations as planned starting on November 30, despite recent health concerns and in accordance with guidelines handed down by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Ministry of Education spokesman Ros Soveacha told The Post on November 29 that the exams would be held at schools in 25 provinces for two days from November 30 to December 1, with 158,717 candidates, including 85,131 women, taking the test at one of 1,729 examination centres or 7,141 examination rooms.
“The diploma exam on November 30 is to proceed as planned with strict health measures in place as stated in the Standard Operating Procedures of the Ministry of Education issued on August 4.
“All educational institutions have organised all stages of the diploma exam in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the 25 provincial-capital education departments as needed,” he said.
Hun Sen said in a recorded message on November 28 that health authorities had discovered the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission of Covid-19: the wife of prison director-general Chhem Savuth. He urged Cambodians to remain calm, avoid gatherings and follow the instructions of health officials – but not to close schools.
“I am not calling for school closures in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap or the other provinces involved [in the new Covid-19 cases]. All that is needed now is to wear masks, wash your hands frequently and maintain social-distancing. We have to let the process run as smoothly as it can in the ‘new normal’, including the schools,” he said.
Or Vandine, secretary of state and spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health, told reporters on November 29 that the Ministry had set up testing for any students or teachers linked to the case of Savuth’s wife or her family, all of whom have tested positive for Covid-19.
Due to the dangers of Covid-19, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports allowed private schools to hold the exams on August 3.
Private schools in 13 provinces and cities administered the exam to 8,103 candidates, including 4,036 women. According to the ministry, 98.81 per cent of candidates passed the test, including 99.4 per cent of the women registered.