Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Hang Chuon Naron said the first morning of the annual Grade 12 national exams went smoothly, with no sign of irregularities.

The minister said in a statement that 2,264 candidates, or 1.77 per cent of the total, were absent, while also noting that about 20 students reported health problems, one of them was suspected to be positive for Covid-19.

“Most of the candidates who reported health problems were able to resume their examinations under the care of medical teams after they felt better. The ministry encourages all candidates to protect their health, get enough rest and eat a balanced diet if they want to achieve good results,” rest more and eat well with hygienic food to get good results in the exams,” he said.

Each testing centre was quiet, orderly and carefully followed the ministry’s operational guidelines. This was thanks to the “excellent” work of the examination committees, inspectors and all stakeholders including the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC), Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) and other relevant authorities, he added.

Chuon Naron was not prepared to offer any expectations as to how many students would earn A grades this year, saying only that if the candidates had studied hard they would achieve good results.

“This is the 10th time we have run these exams [with rules strictly enforced]. We have observed that students are well disciplined, obey the rules, and there were no cases of students attempting to bring crib sheets into the examination room,” said the minister, who took over the ministry in 2013.

He explained that the ministry was able to maintain such high standards as key staff remained unchanged.

“During these 10 exams, we have never had a single leak. Law enforcement would become involved if this was to occur,” he said.

While inspecting the first day of the exams at Preah Sisowath High School on December 5, UYFC president Hun Many urged all candidates to stay focused.

Many expressed his confidence in the management and attention of the education ministry, ACU and all stakeholders, including the UYFC.

“Anyone attempting to circumvent our regulations will face legal consequences. I ask the parents and guardians of all students to have confidence in the education ministry,” he said.

To ensure smooth progress of the exams – in line with the principles of justice and transparency – the ministry cooperates closely with relevant institutions such as the ministries of Interior and Health, National Military Police, ACU, UYFC and state-run Electricity of Cambodia (EDC).

The education ministry is scheduled to announce the results of the exams for Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal province on December 27, with the remaining results expected the following day.

Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha echoed the education minister’s remarks.

“There were no significant issues, apart from the candidates who felt unwell. Their symptoms included dizziness, nausea and vomiting. The majority received first aid from on-duty medics deployed to testing centres and were able to resume their examinations,” he said.