The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports has suspended 23 exam monitors and cautioned more than 200 others accused of helping high school students cheat during tests administered earlier this year.
A warning letter from the ministry, dated December 3, lists the names of more than 200 exam monitors from 18 provinces who are accused of misconduct during final exams for grade 12 students in July.
Ly Somony, under secretary of state at the ministry, said there was evidence that the monitors – all of whom are teachers and some of whom are also officials at the ministry – had committed a range of offences.
“Some inspectors did not pay attention to their job during working hours, and some took the answers of the questionnaires in the exam papers to the students, or took the questions outside the rooms,” he said.
Some teachers had just been cautioned, he said, while others had been relocated or suspended from monitoring duties.
Seang Bun Heng, director of the Khmer Teacher’s Association, said the exam monitors had likely accepted bribes in exchange for helping the students to cheat.
“They helped the students when they needed the inspectors to give them the answers, and [the students] gave them money,” he said, adding that teachers who engaged in such practices were often struggling to survive on a low salary.
"I think some of them don't want to do something corrupt with their profession, but the living standard and poverty forced them to take money from the students," he said.
He welcomed the ministry's warning letter, saying it would help to discourage "other education officials who want to do corruption to abandon their wishes".
"If there are more officials who do wrong they should be fired," he said.
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, welcomed the Ministry's enforcement of exam rules but noted that it was important that the Ministry also ensure that exam monitors understand the rules.
"It is unfair for the officials who were warned or suspended if they did not know [how they made a] mistake," he said.