Gov’t to reopen schools next week, exams stay on schedule

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Students at a school in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district. Heng Chivoan

Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Hang Chuon Naron on November 19 said public and private schools would reopen from Monday while the examination schedules for grades 9 and 12 would remain the same.

Naron said the ministry had made a request to Prime Minister Hun Sen to reopen the schools in Phnom Penh and Kandal province so students could resume studying in accordance with the third phase of school reopening throughout the Kingdom.

The ministry also said the National Olympic Stadium would be reopened for various sports, as long as participants followed the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that requires social distancing as well as health and hygiene standards.

“The ministry would like to announce to students, parents, guardians and teachers that public and private schools will be reopened from November 23 onward.

“I would like to take this opportunity to call for institutions in the Kingdom to continue to practice the SOP with vigilance, maintaining health safety and hygiene in schools at all times. This will help in the continuing fight against Covid-19, especially by preventing the spread of the virus to local communities,” he said.

Naron said the ministry would hold the Grade 9 exam on November 30 and the Grade 12 exam on December 21-22. He advised each school to evaluate its curriculum and produce exams based on their respective educational programmes. He added that there were no organisational problems at this point.

For Grade 12 exam, the ministry advised each institution to evaluate whether the instruction of its educational programme was complete. The ministry would check with the school and hold exams according to the progress of those programmes.

“We call on students, especially those in Phnom Penh who did not study for the past two weeks, to work hard to prepare for grades 9 and 12 exams. We ask that schools provide additional instruction to fill the gaps,” Naron said.

He also reassured students that certificates and diplomas earned from these exams would be as valid as those awarded before the pandemic.

“Students should not feel concerned that certificates earned during the Covid-19 crisis might not be as good as those before it. We still maintain educational standard because we want our students to have the same skills and abilities even though they studied during Covid-19.

“They can still find jobs or pursue their education. There is no discrimination in our society,” he said.

Naron pointed out that some countries did not hold graduation exams and used classroom scores as the equivalent of the high school diploma exam. Cambodia, he said, would hold its annual exams because he does not want to see discrimination against students who studied through the pandemic-driven interruptions.

Ouk Chhayavy, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, praised the ministry’s decision to reopen schools. She said the move was a reflection of the improving health situation in the country.

“It’s good that schools will reopen because students have to study and prepare for the exams. It’s also good because small children can also come back to schools and reduce the burden on their parents,” she said.

Chhayavy was optimistic that the ministry would take into account the difficulties students face while studying during the pandemic and adjust the exams accordingly.