Nearly $4M Spent on National Exam: Minister

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Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron speaking to the media yesterday. KT/ Mai Vireak

Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said yesterday that about $4 million was being spent on the upcoming national exam and that strict rules will ensure a fair contest.
“Each candidate costs an estimated 140,000 riel [$35] that the ministry will spend for whole process of the upcoming exam,” he told reporters during a press conference at the Education Ministry.
The exam will be held on August 22 and 23 with 93,752 registered candidates from 25 provinces using 157 testing centers divided into 3,781 rooms, according to ministry figures. Exam results will be released on December 13 and 14.
“The ministry has been trying to improve teacher quality of checking and correcting the exam papers,” he said. “Up to 25 percent of those students who failed last year will test again this year.
“The ministry has tried to encourage both teachers and students to do their best on the exam. We have gotten a lot of encouragement from students’ parents, local authorities and other partners to make the exam better,” he added.
Mr. Chuon Naron did not mention what would be awarded to grade A students, saying it was up to Prime Minister Hun Sen. He also clarified the chance of re-sitting the exam for students who might fail, saying: “There will be no re-exam this year.”
Since 2014, when education reforms were implemented and national exam results shocked the country due to the large number of failing students, the minister continued to strive to improve education, he said.
“We have faced many challenges, nevertheless we will try our best to solve such problems,” he said.
“I cannot estimate about the results because it is up to the students’ efforts in studying. If they study hard, they will pass. Otherwise, if they have not tried their best to study, they will fail. It will be a fair test for all,” he added.
Mr. Chuon Naron also said that teachers’ salaries had increased.
Despite the number of failing students having declined since the 2014 exam, the minister recommended other career choices for students who have failed.
“For those students who failed last year’s exam, they have other choices to choose skills that don’t require as much knowledge as those in higher education,” he said.
Furthermore, the minister has clear plans in his education reform efforts, including five specific goals. “The five goals are better teachers, better school directors, better students, better health and studying programs and better higher education,” he said.
Any candidate who brings electronic devices into the exam room will automatically fail and others who break the rules will face legal action according to the law.
Last year, of those who received A, B, or C grades, 1,200 chose to be primary and secondary school teachers in an effort to improve education quality, he said.
A total of 6,171 volunteers, recruited by the Anti-Corruption Unit, will ensure students do not cheat during the exam.
The national high school exam is graded from A to F, with an A awarded to outstanding students and an F standing for failure. The lowest passing score is 250.
This year’s exam will be the third national high school exam administered in the Kingdom since the test’s inception in 2014.
In its first year, the exam saw 23,126 of 89,937 students pass, with 11 receiving an A, while in 2015 the number of students passing increased to 46,560 and the number of A students rose to 108.

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