Saturday 28 July 2012

Students Forced to Pay Bribes

Cambodian students travel on boats to school through floodwaters in Kandal province, east of Phnom Penh, Oct. 3, 2011.


Reports of bribery in Cambodian schools underscore the country's uphill battle against corruption.
Cambodian schoolchildren are being forced to pay bribes to pass high school admissions tests, a senior local  educator said on Thursday while calling on the country’s Ministry of Education to have students retake their most recent exams.

“These tests must be taken again, as the results of the previous tests are not valid,” Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association president Rong Chhun told RFA in an interview.

Proctors and examiners for junior high school students are requiring payments of between U.S. $30 to U.S. $60 for a passing grade on high school entrance exams, Rong Chhun said, adding that “middlemen” are charging similar amounts for assurances the bribes will reach the right people.

“There is a price for middlemen between U.S. $30 to U.S. $50. I urge the Ministry of Education to work with local authorities to bring the suspects to justice,” Rong Chhun said.

Cambodian Minister of Education Im Sethy could not be reached for comment, but the reports of bribery in Cambodia’s schools underscore the country’s reputation, highlighted in a recent report  by Berlin-based Transparency International, for widespread corruption in the public sector.

“This bribery takes place across the country,” Rong Chhun said.

Payment to proctors

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the parent of a student in Kandal province said that his son had been told to pay U.S. $30 to proctors at the Bun Rany Hun Sen High School Examination Center in order to pass his exam, held on July 16-17.

“All students were asked to pay at least U.S. $30 dollars, including my son. But my son gave only U.S. $25,” he said.

Results of the exam will be released on July 28, he said.

Berlin-based corruption watchdog Transparency International ranked Cambodia 164th worst out of 182 countries surveyed in its 2011 Corruption Perception Index.

Cambodia’s official Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) launched an initiative in May to eliminate bribes solicited by local commune councilors for performing public services, with ACU deputy director Chhay Savuth declaring that “[Cambodia’s] culture of bribery has been in place for over 20 years.”

But international organizations have warned that the country’s graft-busting bodies will not be effective until they are free of government influence and control.

Reported by Den Ayuthya for RFA’s Khmer service. Translation by Samean Yun. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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