Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Grade-12 exams start smoothly

Grade-12 exams start smoothly

Students seated in line to appear in the Grade 12 examination at a school yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Students seated in line to appear in the Grade 12 examination at a school yesterday in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Grade-12 exams start smoothly

The Kingdom’s high-stakes grade-12 examinations kicked off yesterday, with Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron saying the administration of the test was getting “better and better” after a major anti-corruption overhaul four years ago, though students yesterday reported that their confidence in their abilities still remains low.

The two-day nationwide exams saw a total of 101,410 students register, though 1,497 were absent yesterday. By comparison, 93,752 students registered for the exam last year, with 1,282 missing the first day.

Fewer students were caught cheating and bringing prohibited materials to the exam than last year, though there were hiccups: close to two dozen students experienced health problems like dizziness and vomiting while taking the test, which will ultimately determine whether they qualify for university programmes. All but two were able to continue the exams.

Nonetheless, the Ministry of Education said the first day of examinations had passed without any irregularities.

Chuon Naron, after opening a sealed box of tests at Preah Sisowath High School in the morning, said the test was seeing improvements compared to previous years.

“We believe that this year’s examination will run even better and better,” he said.

Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron takes out sealed examination questions yesterday in Phnom Penh to commence the yearly grade 12 examinations across the Kingdom
Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron takes out sealed examination questions yesterday in Phnom Penh to commence the yearly grade 12 examinations across the Kingdom. Hong Menea

This is the fourth year the Anti-Corruption Unit has been involved to help curb what was once rampant cheating and corruption in the exam. In 2014, the first year of the crackdown, the passing rate plummeted from 87 percent to just over 25 percent. Last year, 62 percent of students passed.

But even with continued warnings of harsh punishment for cheaters, there were reports of five students sneaking in cellphones, which were seized; one student changing seats with another, ostensibly to cheat; and another copying answers, according to a summary posted by the ministry on its Facebook page. One educational staffer was also caught replacing an official examiner for unspecified reasons, with the ministry saying it was preparing a report.

Ministry spokesman Ros Salin did not respond to requests for comment.

Hong Gich, 18, a student taking the exam at Sonthormok High School, said she was happy with the stricter rules, but only hoped to pass with 50 percent – barely above the minimum passing grade of about 47 percent.

“If someone doesn’t have enough knowledge, they will fail,” she said.

Kong Srey Nick, 18, and her brother, Kong Vandet, 22, were taking the exam for a second time at Sonthormok High School yesterday after both siblings failed last year. The siblings said they aspired to attend university, but also only expected to squeak by with 50 percent.

“I will try again if I fail again,” Vandet said. “I will not give up, because I have a dream to become a teacher in a public school.”

Students are patted down as they enter their examination hall at Preah Sisowath High School to take the high-stakes grade 12 national exam yesterday in Phnom Penh
Students are patted down as they enter their examination hall at Preah Sisowath High School to take the high-stakes grade 12 national exam yesterday in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Chin Chanveasna, executive director for the NGO Education Partnership, said it was “normal” for students to have low confidence at the beginning of the test, but maintained students were better prepared now.

For one thing, he noted, “They don’t expect to copy from others.”

Chanveasna said the ministry had also trained all math teachers on a new teaching methodology after the 2014 examination, which revealed that most students performed poorly on that subject. Since then, he said, there has been a slight improvement in math scores.

In October, a working group of NGOs, ministry officials and other partners will hold a meeting to analyse how students performed this year on various subjects and consider similar measures.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this

  • Crumbling prices, rent ruffle condo segment

    The prolonged decline in international arrivals to Cambodia intensified by renewed Covid-19 fears has driven down condominium sales prices and rental rates in Phnom Penh, a research report said. CBRE Cambodia, the local affiliate of US commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group

  • Over $3M in traffic fines collected in two months

    Traffic police officers collected over $3 million in fines throughout the Kingdom during the past two months when officers strictly enforced the law in accordance with a May sub-decree, officials said. As incentives, law enforcement officers received between 200,000 and two million riel ($50 to $500) each. The figures