The ministry of Education announced the results of the grade 12 high school exams on Saturday afternoon, noting that 405 of the 89,661 students who enrolled to take the exam received an A grade, a marked improvement on the previous year and a “surprise” for the Education Minister.
Almost half of the students were in Phnom Penh, with Siem Reap province coming second with 36. Six provinces did not produce any grade A students, the ministry announced yesterday afternoon.
Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said the results reflected the continued efforts by students and teachers.
“Grade A students are not everywhere, but rather it is randomly distributed across schools with good teachers and students, a factor that shows the A grades came from hard work, not by chance,” he said.
“I was surprised to see that there were many more grade A students than the previous year.”
Last year, 108 students received the top mark, while in 2014, only 11 students succeeded.
Ministry spokesman Ros Salin said that as with previous years, students who had an A grade would receive a number of rewards and incentives for further study, including university scholarships, words of support from provincial governors and even the possibility of free motorcycles and computers.
This year’s national exams saw 55,753 students pass – 62.16 percent – a marked increase on last year’s 55.87 percent.
Mondulkiri province had the highest percentage of passing students at 80.46, while Koh Kong province received a lowly 39 percent.
The ministry hailed the exams as a success, noting that no students who had failed had yet complained or demanded a re-marking. Mr. Salin stressed that with 20,000 officials monitoring the two-day exams held last month, irregularities had been kept to “a minimum.”
“The ministry has worked very carefully on the examination process, exam correction and the exam result,” he said.
The government’s Anti-Corruption Unit, which monitored the exams for cheating – and who questioned five officials and teachers over irregularities two weeks ago, the outcome of which has not been made public – said in a post on their Facebook page yesterday that the exams had been more transparent and fair than in previous years.
Cheating during the grade 12 exams used to be endemic, but efforts by Mr. Chuon Naron have seen standards markedly improved in the last three years, with stricter policing of exam centers meaning that pass rates dropped from their once unbelievable highs.
In 2014, the first year of the new exams, only 25.7 percent of students passed, and a re-sit had to be offered to take the official pass rate up to 40.67 for the year.
On Saturday morning, as the results were announced, students at Phnom Penh’s prestigious Preah Sisowath High School shared mixed feelings about their grades.
“I feel very happy because the result was over my expectation,” said 17-year-old Phnorn Soheanu, who received an A.
“My goal since I was in grade 10 has been to study pharmacy and specialize and now I’m studying to prepare for the [university] year 1 entrance exam.”
Yap Opekha, 17, acknowledged that his B will make his university application more difficult. “I regret it because I thought that I could get grade A, but I got grade B instead. However, I also enjoy what I got because I saw that friends failed.”
As in previous years, the vast majority of students nationwide – 38,117 – only received the lowest passing grade. A total of 2,801 received a B, 5,595 a C and 8,835 a D.
Monks check their results on Saturday. Supplied