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Officials say collected $43k from each student they helped alter scores in Vietnam exam

Saturday, May 25, 2019, 19:06 GMT+7
Officials say collected $43k from each student they helped alter scores in Vietnam exam
Police officers arrest Tran Xuan Yen, deputy director of the Department of Education and Training of Son La Province, on July 31, 2018 in this still photo taken from police footage.

Officials investigated in a test-score manipulation scandal in Vietnam have confessed to receiving, on average, VND1 billion (US$43,000) for each student they helped alter scores in the 2018 National High School Exam.

Results of the annual exam, held every year around June, are used to determine whether a student qualifies for graduation from high school and acts as a placement test for college and university entrance in Vietnam.

In 2018, nearly one million candidates took part in the three-day exam, where they sat for tests in math, literature, foreign languages, physics, chemistry, biology, history, geography, and civics.

Police launched an investigation and found signs of test-score manipulation in three northern provinces of Ha Giang, Son La and Hoa Binh following suspicion raised by the public and media surrounding the unusually high scores of some students from these provinces.

Since July 2018, criminal investigations have been launched against more than a dozen officials and police officers from these provinces on charges of abusing powers and positions while performing duties.

In Son La, police concluded their investigation on Friday and transferred case files to the provincial People’s Procuracy for prosecution of eight officials involved in the high-profile cheating scandal.

The officials confessed to receiving, on average, VND1 billion ($43,000) to help each of the 44 students from Son La whose scores were found to have been raised.

Some of the officials have already submitted their share of the ‘payment’ to investigators.

Hoang Tien Duc (R), director of the Department of Education and Training of Son La Province, witnesses the arrest of a provincial official on July 31, 2018 in this still photo taken from police footage.
Hoang Tien Duc (R), director of the Department of Education and Training of Son La Province, witnesses the arrest of a provincial official on July 31, 2018 in this still photo taken from police footage.

In a surprising twist, Son La education department vice director Tran Xuan Yen told investigators he had received a direct order from the department’s director Hoang Tien Duc to alter the score of eight test takers.

Duc is not among the eight officials under investigation.

However, provincial police officers said the first phase of their investigation has already concluded and any violation by Duc will be scrutinized in the second phase of investigation based on this new piece of information.

On Saturday, Duc told Nguoi Dua Tin (Messenger) that the accusations by his deputy against him are “rubbish”.

“It never happened,” Duc was quoted by the news site as saying in a phone interview, referring to Yen’s confessions that Duc had given him a piece of paper containing the information of eight test takers who needed help with their scores.

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