Prime Minister Hun Sen met with 443 of the Kingdom’s top students at the Peace Palace on Monday to commend them for their performance on this year’s Grade 12 National Examinations.
The students, all of whom attained A-grades in the examination, were rewarded with two million riel, a tablet, books by Ou Chung and renowned Khmer poet Phirum Ou, a silver coin struck in 1514 and a gold coin on behalf of King Norodom Sihamoni, Hun Sen said on Facebook.
Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport spokesman Ros Soveacha said that top-performing students would also receive two new 15,000 banknotes and may be awarded scholarships.
“In the provinces, students were awarded prizes by provincial school management authorities. For example, in some provinces, they were rewarded with motorcycles. In some other provinces, they were awarded other souvenirs,” Soveacha told The Post on Monday.
The success of the examinations, Hun Sen said, should be attributed to reforms made to the examinations as much as to the hard work of teachers, students and their guardians.
A little more than 68 per cent of students passed this year’s examinations – a slight increase from 67 per cent last year.
“This increase is not due to inflated scores. The examination standards remain the same, but the number of outstanding students who earned A-grades is more than one per cent,” Hun Sen said as he lauded students for not procrastinating while studying for the examinations.
Cambodia first reformed the examination in 2014, increasing teachers’ salaries and monitoring at schools. Two examinations were organised that year with 25 per cent of students passing the first session and 17 per cent passing the second one. Only 11 students attained A-grades that year.
In 2015, when the authorities targeted “cheat sheets” in examination halls, 55 per cent of students passed with 108 students receiving As.
By 2016, students were being frisked for cellphones, calculators and other materials before writing examinations. The number of students who passed rose to 62 per cent with 405 students receiving A-grades.
About 63 per cent of students passed the 2017 examinations with 424 students being awarded As despite anti-cheating measures being in full swing.
Last year about 67 per cent of students passed the examinations – the highest since they were introduced. Yet, the number of A-grade students dropped for the first time as angry students protested against a computer glitch that tallied the wrong scores.
Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association president Ouk Chayavy encouraged senior authorities to embrace the Kingdom’s youth, saying they have a responsibility to educate the leaders of tomorrow and ensure they have jobs available when they graduate.
“Most importantly, [the leadership] must do whatever possible for students to love their nation and not just focus on the budget,” she told The Post on Monday.
Some 120,000 candidates sat for this year’s Grade 12 National Examinations in August. Nearly 80,000 candidates passed the examinations.
A day after the results were announced, more than 150 students protested in front of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport demanding that their results be reviewed.
The ministry, upon reviewing the examination papers, decided that their scores were accurate.