Prospective students for Phnom Penh’s
University of Medicine undertook a third day of
demonstrations Friday, angered that a high number of them had failed and
swearing to continue protests until they are admitted.
Around 400 would-be medical students have been protesting
since Wednesday, with less than 400 out of 1,800 test-takers able to meet the
50 percent minimum score.
Health Minister Mam Bunheng said Friday Cambodia needs
“qualified doctors and nurses” and the National Committee of Examinations had
judged correctly in admitting only the 369 who passed their entrance exams.
“If you are not qualified enough as a medical student, you
cannot be a physician,” he said at a press conference Friday. “For example, if
you are operating on someone and cut the wrong artery, and you cut the artery
that bleeds a lot, the patient will quickly die.”
Officials from the ministries of Health and Education, the
National Committee of Examinations, and several cabinet ministers met with five
student representatives and the Independent Teacher’s Association Thursday
night to resolve the problem.
At that meeting, officials decided to reduce the entrance
score from 50 percent to 25 percent, which would allow an additional 507
students to join the university, filling a total 876 slots.
Even with the entrance score lowered to 25 percent, some
students remained dissatisfied.
Students said the university had earlier announced that
1,481 slots would be open and they would continue to demonstrate every day
until that many slots were filled.
Of the 936 students who scored below 25 percent on their
entrance exams, 605 more need to be admitted to satisfy the demonstrators.