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Not all happy with tough test

A student is searched for contraband by an official as he enters a Phnom Penh high school
A student is searched for contraband by an official as he enters a Phnom Penh high school yesterday to take part in the second day of nationwide grade 12 exams. Pha Lina

Not all happy with tough test

At the conclusion of the two-day grade 12 national exams yesterday, the Ministry of Education declared its crusade to end rampant cheating on the test a success. Many diploma-seeking candidates, however, had an entirely different take: disappointment.

“That was the hardest test in the world,” said one student after he had finished writing all seven subjects.

To ensure none of the typically widespread bribery and cheat sheet-sharing took place this year, military police patrolled the perimeter of each of the 154 testing sites, students were patted down before entering and tests were monitored by multiple proctors as well as independent volunteer observers recruited by the Anti-Corruption Unit.

Print shops near schools were also shuttered, and students reported that despite their best efforts, they could procure only obviously fake exam copies.

One of the test-takers at the capital’s Tuol Tom Pong High School yesterday got so anxious he slapped a female exam monitor after she told him to stay in his seat when he peaked over a classmate’s shoulder, other students said. The nervous tester then fled the school and, because he didn’t come back, flunked the exam.

“This year, a lot of students are going to fail, but at least since there will be so many of us, there will be an excuse to tell our parents,” said Kim Pich*, 18.

While Education Minister Hang Chhuon Naron announced that there had been “no corruption or test leakage” this year, some of the students reported differently.

“We all cheated from each other [by passing around answers] during the test,” said Rith Sovann*, another Tuol Tom Pong test-taker. “In every subject, there’s at least one or two good students and they took pity on us bad students. The proctor has one eye open and one eye closed; they want us to pass.”

Sovann, who wants to go to college to study IT, said that his chances are now “hopeless” but agreed with classmates that at least they can pocket money their parents had supplied in case a bribe opportunity presented itself.

* Names changed to protect their identities

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