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NGO observers to get window into cheating

In case cramming for an exam that determines high school graduation and college placement wasn’t stressful enough, grade 12 test-takers will now have to do so under the scrutiny of independent observers tasked with manning every exam-room window.

As part of a slew of reforms to crack down on endemic cheating at the national exam this year, the Anti-Corruption Unit has recruited 2,000 independent observers from NGOs, universities and individual volunteers.

For the past three years, the ACU sent its own observers to monitor the exams, but this is the first time it will invite civilians to bolster the ranks.

“We could put our observers at all 154 exam centres, but we won’t. We want to monitor in a transparent way,” Om Yentieng, president of the ACU, explained yesterday at an informational session for recruited observers.

Yentieng warned monitors that they have not been endowed with the powers of educators or government officials during the August 3 and 4 exam period; monitors cannot stop the proceedings even if they witness cheating, bribery or other corruption, and will not even be allowed into the exam room.

“You have no right to enter the class; you must watch from the window and observe,” he said, advising that monitors capture evidence of irregularity on their phones and bring the pictures to proctors.

But education monitors said such a limited role renders them incapacitated to do much.

“Monitoring at the window is not really going to be effective,” said San Chey, a coordinator for ANSA-EAP. “But we can still monitor the centre as the students go in, and then interview them afterwards.”

Yentieng, however, maintained that cheating at the exam was not nearly as rampant as outsiders assume, part of the reason that outsiders will be allowed in to “see the reality.”

But a university student registered as a monitor said everyone, himself included, has used an illicit trick or two to boost their scores.

“No one in my year was perfect and didn’t cheat, even the best students,” said the student, who decline to provide a name.

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