Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cheating down, faintings up

Cheating down, faintings up

A school official pats down a student as a second checks his pencil case for contraband yesterday in Phnom Penh during the second day of grade 12 national exams.
A school official pats down a student as a second checks his pencil case for contraband yesterday in Phnom Penh during the second day of grade 12 national exams. Heng Chivoan

Cheating down, faintings up

As the grade 12 national exams wrapped up yesterday afternoon, officials lauded last year’s sweeping reforms for keeping cheating to a minimum, while acknowledging that absences and faintings had increased.

Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron, responsible for introducing the strict anti-cheating measures, said there had been a “good improvement” in the behaviour of test-takers this year.

“Last year, so many cheat sheets were found and a lot of students were caught cheating, but this year, there were only a small amount of cheat sheets [discovered], no mobile phones in test rooms and only one or two calculators.”

Om Yentieng, chief of the Anti-Corruption Unit, which has helped to implement the reforms, agreed that the exam had gone “smoothly”, bar a few students’ attempts to smuggle in banned testing aids.

But while cheating was down this year, a large number of students decided to skip the test altogether.

According to Chuon Naron, 1,431 of the 88,488 registered candidates were absent on the first day of the exam, while even more – 1,589 – were absent yesterday.

“It’s normal that candidates have no confidence in themselves after the first day of the exam. They think they cannot do it anymore so they give up,” he said.

The number of students physically buckling under the pressure also rose yesterday, with 44 reported incidents of fainting and dizziness compared to 19 on Monday, according to the Ministry of Education.

Ministry spokesman Ros Salin said most of those who fainted yesterday were able to “continue with their exam after being treated by doctors”.

A pregnant student in a Koh Kong province high school was rushed to hospital having gone into labour and was not able to complete the test, he added.

Despite the blips, the ministry once again said early indicators suggested a significant improvement on last year’s dismal 74 per cent failure rate.

As the exam finished yesterday afternoon, students filing out of Phnom Penh’s Wat Koh High School gave mixed reviews on how they’d fared in the test, but all agreed that cheating had proved impossible.

Twenty-one-year-old student Phanny Sopharaksa, who failed last year, said conditions inside the exam hall had become even stricter.

“There were a lot more observers this year, so it was a lot stricter . . . But I studied more than last year so I was more prepared.”

In a joint statement yesterday, local NGOs the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, the Khmer Institute for National Development, and the Coalition for Integrity & Social Accountability praised the reforms, which they said had been implemented well.

But they urged the ministry to “improve the process of checking papers to ensure fair results for candidates”.

The NGOs also called on the government to expand its reforms by “providing better chances for students to study”, with libraries, clean bathrooms and adequate study tools in all schools that they said would further “boost the education system”.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALICE CUDDY

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia resumes issuance of tourist visas

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced the resumption of its tourist visa and visa exemption programme after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter dated October 20 and addressed to foreign embassies and consulates, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the