The Ministry of Education yesterday issued a statement that Grade 12 students who are preparing to sit for their high school examination may still attend school according to provincial evaluations to define the risk of COVID-19.
According to new guidelines for the evaluations, the national examination, also known as BacII, is still scheduled to take place on December 21 despite the “November 28 community incident”, which by yesterday had seen a total of 17 new COVID-19 cases. Whether or not the students can still go to school prior to the examination depends upon the level of risk each high school is facing.
“The management committee of each school has to evaluate the risk of COVID-19 transmission to decide whether the classes should be suspended or not and ask for advice from the head of the provincial Department of Education,” the ministry said. “Heads of the education departments have the authority to decide on the suspension of classes in all schools in all provinces and towns.”
The ministry said that the high schools which face the risk of COVID-19 transmission on their campus will be temporarily halted, while those which do not will be allowed to go on with their lessons. However, the Grade 12 students who will not be able to attend class have to prepare by studying on their own at home or studying in small groups.
Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron on Monday instructed all public schools across the country to end the 2020 calendar year immediately and close temporarily for 15 days. Schools are currently scheduled to reopen January 11. However, Grade 12 classes are allowed to continue.
This is the third closure of schools because of the pandemic. Schools had just reopened on November 23 after Prime Minister Hun Sen declared the end of the “November 3 incident” which arose after the visit of the Hungarian Foreign Minister.
Yong Paktra, a Grade 12 student from Chbar Ampov High School, said he has no hope of passing this year’s national exam whether or not he can still go to lessons in the next 20 days. “When my school closed, I studied online, but it was very difficult,” he said. “I don’t have much hope for this year.”
Twelfth grader Tith Dara, from Bak Touk High School, is also worried about the third round of school closures as the situation is uncertain. “At first I had some hope. I believed I would try my best to study a few weeks before the exam, but now I am almost sure that hope is gone.”
A survey conducted in the Kingdom by Social Action for Community and Development (SACD) showed that students, either at general or tertiary levels, are struggling to adjust to distance learning.
Findings from the survey revealed that some students said “they are not ready because they have not received instructions about, or understand, such a manner of learning”. Over 70 percent of the participants said the main challenges have been paying for internet services and purchasing devices, such as smartphones and tablets, which are necessary for e-learning.
The capability to afford such devices and services, said the students, has only been worsened by the present economic downturn. SACD said that many families living in remote areas do not even own televisions and even if they did, the broadcast learning programmes could not reach their residences