National High School Exam candidates each spent an average of 120,000 riel – about US$30 – on bribes over this year’s two-day testing period to secure exam answers, according to independent research released yesterday.
Social researcher Kem Ley’s report Turning a Blind Eye purported that 92 per cent of students were involved in bribery or cheating during the exam, which is conducted under the supervision of high- school proctors, teachers and police officials.
“We also see that 55 per cent of answers were copied from their hand phone after the answer was made and sent around by email,” Ley said, noting social media site Facebook had emerged as a popular means to cheat during this year’s exams, which took place on August 6 and 7.
“However, while this is a self-formed habit to bribe the [exam supervisors], this year there was a bit of improvement compared to last year,” he said, pointing to more diligent monitoring of exam rooms by police officials as stemming the amount of exam answer cheat sheets physically used by students.
The 40-page research findings from interviews with 157 students will be sent to the Ministry of Education and government development partners UNESCO and UNICEF next week, Ley told the Post, in a bid to put pressure on the government to reform the education system.
For Ley, the solution lies in improving the quality and ethics of teachers and exam invigilators through appropriate remuneration or up to $150 per day during the exam period.
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teacher Association, agreed that exam irregularities greatly diminished the quality of the education system in Cambodia.
“It isn’t a new thing. Although it was quieter around exam rooms this year, that is because they are copying via email and Facebook,” Chhun said.
He added that if the government did not deal with the quality of education in Cambodia, it could not produce a competitive labour force for the 2015 ASEAN integration.
Sam Sereyrath, general director at the Ministry of Education, said the research was a somewhat “small sample”, so it was incapable of evaluating the whole high-school exam.
“The result would have been much more positive if he had interviewed more,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Chhay Channyda at [email protected]