I am in the last six weeks of teaching my first college classes in Cambodia. I am shocked to learn that it is almost a universal policy in this culture to buy the answers for the final examination. Even though I have been in this country for two years now, I never had access to this bit of information until now as I wrap up my two classes.
Apparently it is an accepted norm throughout the culture to buy (bribe) one’s way into a passing score in the 9th grade examinations and the 12th grade examinations. The 9th grade examinations determine whether or not you can proceed into high school and the 12th grade exams determine whether you can go to college.
I have loved my students, but I have been completely mystified by their attendance patterns. The college I work for has a clearly articulated set of rules about attendance and class responsibilities.
One of my students has attended only 22% of my class and as a result has not had a lot of the in-class experiences and the hand outs. Following university written protocol I refused to let her sit for the mid term examination, and I also indicated that I would give her a fail for the course. She appealed my position to the school Dean and the Dean granted her permission to continue in the class and take the exam. He said he felt sorry for her.
What I find fascinating is that students (most all of them) skip classes frequently and then appear almost 100% for exams. They are then permitted to buy the answers to the exams and then they move on to the next course. It appears that I could get any kind of a college degree in this culture without attending any of the classes.
Since I am teaching English writing, speaking, and English literature, I don’t understand how a student (or anyone) could expect to claim that they speak and write English fluently without the real classroom experiences and preparation. Prospective employers would find out about the fraud within minutes of an interview.
I have always been a bit dismayed to know that I am teaching “advanced English” but my students do not have comprehension skills that would even let them know what to do when I ask them to “please stand up.” I have to use a translator.
This country is filled with corruption everywhere. I had always known that elementary and secondary teachers all expect to be paid bribes on a daily basis or the student is not permitted to learn and advance for any given day. I just had never even suspected that this kind of corruption followed all school students year after year in this culture.
I am puzzled about how the country as a whole would have expectations of lifting itself out of “Third World Country” status if the entire educational system is a fraud.
Can you imagine me being a neurosurgeon. I skipped most of the classes, and I bought the answers to the final examination. But I have my degree which hangs on the wall of my office. OMG!