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Cheating Continues on Exam Week

As high school exams entered their second day Tuesday, students and controllers both say cheating, corruption and other irregularities plague the process.

Students pass money to teacher administrators, called controllers, to allow for cheating, copying and having answers checked by other students. Some students take tests for others. In some cases, students know the answers to the test ahead of time.

"I hope that I will pass, because I could copy from my friends," a student named Vecheka, 19, said following her exams at Sisowath High School in Phnom Penh. "The teachers were not really strict after we collected money for them."

But cheating is a violation against the next generation, corrupting students when they are young, said Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association.

The high school cheating has become an annual event, but at least one controller said this year, the habit was so ingrained, he could be hurt if he didn't take a bribe.

"I know this is a kind of corruption," said one controller at Boeung Trabek High School, "but if I did not accept it, I can have a security concern after I leave the school."

This year about 79,000 students took exams nationwide.

The Ministry of Education does not recognize the cheating as a widespread problem.

But another controller said the custom was proverbially widespread.

"The collection of money from students has become a usual habit; if pey goes, tro also goes," said the controller, from Phnom Penh's Tuoltompong High School, quoting a proverb about two musical instruments that must be played together.