Grade 6 exam student

Last week, our rural primary students at Romchek, Koh Ker, and Prey Kuol took our Grade 6 exam, which we organized to give them the chance to truly assess their readiness and capability to pass through to secondary school. 

You may remember that all Grade 6-ers at Preah Vihear received an automatic pass – which has been standard government practice during the Covid school closures, moving students through the grades even though they’ve missed nearly two full years of essential schooling.

Our last blog post explained why we fundamentally disagree with this approach, which is certain to result in students failing and dropping out as they hit secondary school woefully underprepared, without the solid foundation that Grade 6 provides. An approach that seems set up to weed out students from already extremely marginalized communities. 

Instead, we are offering all our support and resources to encourage the students to repeat the year: go back and get it right, then move on. 

Since October, they’ve had a crash review of Grade 6 with extra classes and teachers hired by PLF, and last week sat our exam.

Grade 6 exam at Romchek
Grade 6 exam at Prey Kuol
Grade 6 exam at Koh Ker

And the astounding news is that in total 17 passed!!!

12 by a clear margin, and a handful at 1 or 2% under, but since they had already repeated the year once, they will go through. 

An amazing result, given that they missed most of Grade 5 and all of Grade 6! We honestly are quite astonished at how many did pass, considering the hurdles from the past year and the high standard we set: 70% required in both Khmer and maths, not just a combined score, as is the norm. 

Before revealing the grades in community meetings, the village chiefs spoke very poignantly from their own experiences about how vital a good educational foundation is to work and life in general, and how they have been held back by not having had this basic opportunity. They also gave encouraging pep talks on the emotional aspect of failing; how the circumstances of the last two years have been beyond the students’ control. 

Koh Ker + Prey Kuol Community meeting

For all these students, whether passed or failed, the effort and courage they have shown have been phenomenal. The higher-than-expected pass rate is a boost we did not expect to receive and is absolutely a testament to the standard of our teaching staff. We are so proud of the determination and hard work of all our students, staff, and the support of the families and broader community.

Grade 6 exam student
Grade 6 exam student

Now we wait with bated breath to see what the remaining 47 students decide to do … will they heed our advice and repeat the whole of Grade 6? Or will they carry on under their own steam to secondary school and, sadly, in all likelihood, fail there? 

In the meantime, so taken by surprise are we by the results, we need to buy a third truck to get this new cohort of Grade 7’s to school! Please click through to our fundraiser if you can help us get over the line by the end of the year!

Preah Vihear primary schools and Srayang Learning Center are projects of PLF Canada, executed by PLF Cambodia.

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