More than 130,000 Cambodian students will sit the high school exams next week, three years after the government tightened anti-cheating rules.
In the first year, the rules were changed, just a quarter of students passed the exam, but rather than seeking new ways to beat the system, students concerned they will fail are now seeking out private tutors online.
While private tutoring has been available for many years, online learning has only recently started to take off with the spread of cheap technology.
Mao Sereyvitou, 19, a high school student from Hun Sen Trapaing Prasat in Oddor Meanchey province, has taken up online learning for the first time to prepare for his upcoming math exam.
“The reason I take online learning classes is that I can learn new techniques. I can broaden my knowledge for the high school exams,” he said, adding that he started the online classes, which cost $10 per month, after seeing an advertisement on Facebook.
“I think this online learning course is great, as students can get the same lessons, teaching techniques, and exercises as people in the city.”
Though patchy Internet connections can be a problem for rural students, they supplement them with face-to-face lessons to fill in the gaps.
Sim Sereivuth, 19, from Phnom Penh’s Boeung Trabek high school, said even for students in the city, the classes were helpful.
“I have enough time to take online classes as I take them in the evening and it’s better than going to learn at school.”
Social media, particularly Facebook, has become a tool for young Cambodians to entertain themselves, interact with friends, but also a way to expand their knowledge. Some 2 million 18 to 24-year-olds now use Facebook in the country.
One entrepreneur who is hoping to move into this market is Choeurn Saron, who works for Globalive, a popular online learning website for students preparing for their math and chemistry exams.
Students can use the app on their computers or smartphones anywhere with an Internet connection.
Some 200 students have signed up so far, and can also use the app to live video chat with instructors.
“Online learning is a very effective way of learning because they can listen to the teacher very well,” he said.
“They can interact immediately when they have questions.”
Neang Bo, 46, an online math teacher, said taking the classes online was not so different from extracurricular classes at school.
“I think the online courses will help Cambodian students get access to education from renowned teachers and they can learn similar lessons as students in Phnom Penh,” he said.
Additional Report by Sun Narin