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Young people remain blissfully unaware of the hidden dangers of mobile phones


ACCORDING to a 2008 census, Cambodia has a population of 13,395,682, with a growth rate of 1.54 per cent a year.

BuddeCom, a telecommunications research website, has estimated that this year, Cambodia has 8.4 million mobile subscribers.

With the rise in modern technology, and especially the introduction of the “smart” phone, mobile phones can be used for many purposes. People use their phones to take pictures, capture video, record sound, play music, listen to the radio, watch television and, perhaps most pervasively, surf the internet.

Cambodia now has nine mobile operators, up from a mere three in 2006.  These companies are competing constantly to provide the best calling rates and lowest mobile internet charges.

Those charges can be based either on data transferred or based on a package deal.  The former usually cost  about one cent per 100kb; the latter are usually around $3 a month.

These rates are not too expensive, especially compared with rates in neighbouring countries such as Malaysia.

Thanks to these reasonable rates, mobile-phone manufacturers have recently churned out a number of internet-capable phones at affordable prices around $30.

Some phone manufacturers co-operate with mobile operators by allowing users to surf the web free of charge within a given period of time.

All this means that today, there are more Cambodians, especially young people, using mobile phones than ever before.

In the past, people needed to take their laptops and USB internet modems with them whenever they wanted to access the internet.  Now, simply having a mobile phone is good enough, even for editing and emailing documents.  This is a good sign: it allows people to be more productive, even when they are on holiday or outside their office. Social networking sites have also grown in prominence now that your average phone can access the internet.

This has helped transform traditional methods of communication, with Facebook messages and/or text messages replacing letters and even email.

Nevertheless, technology  works well only when used as intended.  If not, it can lead to problems that are difficult to control.

In local newspapers across the country, stories are telling how students used their mobile phones to cheat during the recent national high-school exams.In a story titled “Ministry admits some exam proctors were bribed”, published in the Cambodia Daily newspaper on July 27, May Sopheaktra, a member of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, was quoted as saying:  “Mobile [phones] are popular in exam centres this year.  They’re used to make calls and get answers through the internet.

Students call friends to pass on the exam question, then call back during an exam break to get the answer.”

On the one hand, this is nothing new.  An article published by AFP on August 18, 2010 detailed how Cambodian students used their mobile phones to call for answers during an exam.

What’s new this year is that students are using their internet connections to acquire answers. This is only a suggestion, but I think  stricter rules should be placed on mobile-phone use during next year’s national school examinations.  Students should not be able to bring their mobile phones into the testing centres.

As chatting via mobile internet becomes more popular among young Cambodians, we need to make sure we are using the technology responsibly, or it may have drastic effects on our academic, professional and personal lives.

In some cases, reports have surfaced of students simply stepping out of the classroom to talk on their mobile phones if the subject being taught doesn’t interest them.

For people who lack time-management skills, using a mobile phone can prevent them completing any of the tasks they set themselves.

In conclusion, people should be using mobile-phone technology in a way that brings them success in life, rather than simply for pleasure.

19/08/2011
By: Dara Saoyuth
This article was published on LIFT, Issue 84 published on August 17, 2011
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Cellphones help Cambodian students — to cheat


PHNOM PENH, Thursday 19 August 2010 (AFP) – Standing in front of a school in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, Than Vichea read out answers over his mobile telephone to his sister who was taking national exams inside.

He was not alone. Even the police deployed outside schools to stop relatives providing answers to the more than 100,000 students who sat the tests last month could not prevent cheating in many of the exam centres.

“What would happen if they fail?” asked Than Vichea. “We have to think about our expenses for schooling, part-time studies and fuel costs, and especially our time.”

Several students interviewed by AFP said they had bribed teachers to allow them to check notes they had smuggled into the exams, or answer sheets allegedly sold in advance by teachers outside the schools.

One said he had paid about 30 dollars to teachers during two and a half days of exams so they would turn a blind eye to cheating and keep watch for school inspectors.

Others said they had bribed teachers to allow them to use their mobiles to phone relatives for help during the exams, the results of which will be announced on August 20.

“Besides copying answers from each other, candidates in my room could even make a phone call outside during the exams to get answers,” said a female student who asked to remain anonymous.

“And when there was only one correct answer sheet, it was hard to pass from one to another. So those who use modern phones took a photo of that sheet and then sent it to each other via the Internet on their phones,” she said.

After decades of civil war and the mass killing of educated people and intellectuals by the communist Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s, Cambodia is trying to restore its educational system. But it is a slow process.

“Our country was severely destroyed during the Khmer Rouge, so, as a child, we have started rebuilding,” said Mak Vann, a senior official with the Ministry of Education.

“We have trained more teachers and up to now it’s still not enough. We still lack educational tools, and more teachers need to be trained as well.”

Cambodia’s schools were obliterated under Khmer Rouge rule. The regime killed nearly two million people — including many teachers — as it emptied cities in its bid to forge a Communist utopia.

School buildings, documents and other educational resources were destroyed.

More than three decades later, a lack of infrastructure, human resources and educational tools, as well as low wages for teachers, are hindering efforts to improve standards in schools.

Not all students interviewed said there had been cheating in their exam rooms.

“In my room, it was very strict. We could not even look at each other during the exams. No cellphones were allowed,” said one, Bun Keo Voleak.

But the apparent acceptance of bribes by many teachers reflects rampant corruption in general in Cambodia that is seen by many as a growing barrier to quality in human resources for the Southeast Asian nation.

Cheating and paying bribes are common during exams, but Rong Chhun, head of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, said the problem appeared to have worsened this year.

“Weakness in the educational system cannot help our country to develop,” he said.

Cambodia was ranked 158th out of 180 countries in anti-graft organisation Transparency International’s index of perceived public sector corruption in 2009.

It was also ranked the second most corrupt Southeast Asian nation after Indonesia in an annual poll by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy.

“Corruption exists and sometimes it seems to be open, such as teachers collecting money from students even in public class,” said In Samrithy, executive director of NGO Education Partnership.

He said Cambodia was lagging behind neighbouring countries in terms of the quality of education.

“Allowing students to cheat is dangerous for their future because what they write for their teachers is not their real knowledge, so when they face a real situation, especially in a competitive job market, they will have problems.”

by: Dara Saoyuth
Edited by: Mr. Suy Se, Cambodian news correspondent for AFP, and AFP editors

This article is under AFP copyright

You can’t copy thinking


What is the best way to guarantee that you get good grades? If you are reading this magazine, you know the answer is hard work, but for too many of the country’s student the answer is cheating.

Although a culture of cheating is more pervasive in high school than it is at the country’s universities, many students bring their habit of cheating with them when they make the transition to college.

Cheating at university not only makes students’ higher education worthless, it reflects poorly on professors and administrators who can’t control their classes, and it is frustrating for students who are studying hard for tests and exams.

Rather than accept cheating as an unavoidable occurrence, many universities in the Kingdom are working to eliminate cheating from their classes altogether.

Ban Thero, the vice-chancellor at Cambodian Mekong University, said cheating happened regardless of how hard teachers tried to stop it, but that it can be cut down.

“Everywhere is the same. It’s not only Cambodian students who try to cheat. If there is chance to cheat, they will cheat,” said Ban Thero.

“At examinations at CMU, we don’t allow students to use telephones or other tools that can store information during the exam, and we don’t allow students to borrow pens or pencils from each other.”

The Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL) has long been known among students as one of the most strict universities when it comes to examinations, which helps explain why their graduates speak their chosen language with such fluency.

Khan Bophan, the bachelor’s programmes coordinator at IFL, said Cambodian students graduating from high school had a habit of cheating during exams, so IFL made sure that these habits are broken before they enter the university by making the students pass a closely supervised entrance exam before the school year begins.

After that, if you can’t speak, read and write the language, you can’t pass the classes and students soon realise that cheating is no help.

“Students are under close supervision from two examiners. No paper is allowed on the desk. There is a wide space between each student. They are not allowed to pick up a call. They are not allowed out of the room. These are the main rules to ensure that there is no cheating at IFL,” said Khan Bophan. “We also shuffle teachers around, which means that people who teach a particular class do not check that class.”

According to a formal letter sent to all students at IFL, there are strict penalties for students caught cheating. The first time cheating results in a 20 percent deduction, second is 50 percent and the third time gets a 100 percent deduction.

When asked whether the strict rules, which may result in lower GPAs, will make it harder for student to get a job upon graduation, Khan Bophan said this should not be a concern, since transcripts alone do not get you a job. You have to pass multiple interviews, as well, and that is where students who have had to work for their grades will prevail.

by: Dara Saoyuth

This article was published on Lift, Issue 35, September 08, 2010

What’s gonna happen in Cambodian National Exam this year?


Flag of Cambodia set to the shape of the country.

Image via Wikipedia

This year National Examination will start from 26th-28th July with about 100,000 students and about 191 places will be used as exam centers across the countries, according to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport report.

To prevent irregularities during the exam, Touch Naroth, the Phnom Penh Municipal police chief, said this year will be the same as previous years that he will put his police force to guard exam centers depend on the request of the Ministry of Education.

Despite having police officers guard all the exam centers, every year, many people especially those from non-governmental organizations and students always talked and shared their concerns about irregularities happening during the exam.

Rong Chhun, the president of the Cambodia Independent Teachers Association (CITA), claimed to see students bribed inspectors to let them open documents and use telephone during the exam last year.

He said if they allow this situation to be continued in Cambodia, it will affect to the educational quality and they cannot produce the real human resource. “Weakness in Educational System cannot help developing our country,” he said.

Rong Chhun said he forecasted that this year examination is neither different nor better than the previous year exam since he has received information from some provinces and some parts in the city saying that teachers are planning to collect money at about 10000Riels (about $2.5) per subject while the exam doesn’t start yet.

Rong Chhun explained the reason for the irregularities resulted from the practices of the ministry is still weak and the head of the Ministry receive benefit from this exam.

A grade-12 student from Chea Sim Samarki High School and also a candidate for the upcoming exam, agreed that cheating happens.

He said none of student knows everything; at least they are still lacking some points, so they have to fulfill these parts by cheating. He continued that there are 10 subjects for him to focus on and it’s difficult to be good at all of them.

The student said he is not the best student but he always gets good grades in class, so he has enough ability for the exam. “If it is strict during the exam, it will be easy for me,” he said. “When it is not strict in class, it always affects me because other friends around me drag my paper untidily,” he continued.

Rong Chhun urged students to trust in themselves for the forthcoming exam. “We will have enough abilities to compete for the job opportunities providing that we pass because of our own capacities,” he said. He continued that parents must trust in their children, and the Ministry of Education must determine to make the exam process better so that we can get better quality for the country.

Note: Result for National Examination for Grade 12 will be announced on 20 August 2010 at noon for Phnom Penh, Kandal province and will be on 21 August 2010 for other provinces.

Written by: Dara Saoyuth

25/07/2010

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