Waiting under the palm trees in the shadow of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s office building on Wednesday morning, 43-year-old Soun Kanha couldn’t stop smiling as she remembered the morning she learned that her daughter earned an A on the national high school exit exam.
Her daughter, Sothea Doungthida, 18, was inside the premier’s Phnom Penh “Peace Palace” being showered with praise and gifts alongside 404 other students who received an A with a score of 99 percent or above.
Students who received an A on the national high school exit exam listen to Prime Minister Hun Sen speak during an awards ceremony in Phnom Penh yesterday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily) “That morning, I couldn’t do anything,” Ms. Kanha recalled. Woken by the news at 6 a.m., she began jumping up and down inside the mosquito net that covers her bed, overjoyed that her child’s hard work had paid off.
Of the 93,752 students who registered for the exam, which determines university eligibility and placement, Ms. Doungthida was among 55,753, or 62 percent, who passed. Less than half a percent, however, scored in the A bracket.
“I called every relative to tell them,” Ms. Kanha said. “I was so happy.”
Passing the exam became tougher when reforms meant to eradicate cheating and bribery were implemented in 2014. The passing rate was just 40 percent that year, and only 11 students received an A. Fifty-six percent passed last year, 108 of them with an A.
“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of the students who passed the exam with an A grade,” Mr. Hun Sen told the high achievers on Wednesday.
The premier then handed each of the students a Samsung tablet computer, a silver coin and an envelope containing 2 million riel in cash, or about $500.
And for the first time, the directors of the 141 schools the A students came from were also rewarded: 1 million riel (about $250) each and 3 million riel (about $750) for their schools.
“I was so excited because I met Samdech,” said Iv Sreylin, 18, after the event.
“What we received was deserved…. We worked hard.”
© 2016, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.
The post Top Students Earn Praise, Prizes At ‘Peace Palace’ After Exams appeared first on The Cambodia Daily.