More than a dozen students from Son La Province in northern Vietnam whose scores in the 2018 National High School Exam were changed in a high-profile cheating scandal are children of provincial leaders and officials, an investigation by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper shows.
Results of the National High School Examination, held each year in June, are used to determine whether a student qualifies for graduation from high school and acts as a placement test for colleges and universities in Vietnam.
In the 2018 exam, hundreds of exam papers from the three northern provinces of Ha Giang, Son La, and Hoa Binh were found to have been manipulated by officials in order to alter the scores of dozens of students.
A criminal investigation was launched this month against more than a dozen officials and police officers in the three provinces to identify any abuse of power or position which may have played a role in the scandal.
Public opinion has been calling on officials and police officers to reveal a full list of students whose scores were altered in the 2018 exam, but the demand has not been met due to privacy concerns.
Speaking with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Wednesday, a Party leader in Son La confirmed that a number of provincial officials are parents of the students involved in the scandal.
An independent investigation by Tuoi Tre reveals that 21 out of 44 confirmed cheaters from Son La are children of local officials or police officers, many of whom hold top positions at their respective government bodies.
The list includes the deputy director of the provincial education department, deputy chairman of Son La’s namesake capital city, director of the provincial statistics office, and the chief inspector of the provincial education department.
The children of these officials had their scores raised by 3-25 points on a test with a maximum score of 30, turning them into ‘top-scorers’ on the exam despite their real scores being much lower than the national average.
Most have dropped out or been expelled from their respective higher education institutions following the exposé.
However, according to a Party leader of Son La, an official court ruling on the role of these parents is needed before any disciplinary measure can be taken against the government officials.
In the meantime, these officials will not be considered for promotion, commendation, or salary bonuses, the source said.