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15 jailed for roles in test-score manipulation scandal in Vietnam

Thursday, May 21, 2020, 19:09 GMT+7
15 jailed for roles in test-score manipulation scandal in Vietnam
Former education officials Do Manh Tuan (left) and Nguyen Quang Vinh are present at their trial for test-score manipulation in the 2018 National High School Exam in Hoa Binh Province, Vietnam, May 21, 2020. Photo: Danh Trong / Tuoi Tre

Fifteen offenders who were involved in a test-score manipulation scandal in the 2018 National High School Examination in northern Vietnam have been sentenced to a combined 50 years and six months in prison.

Their sentences were handed at a court in the northern province of Hoa Binh on Thursday morning.

Accordingly, Nguyen Quang Vinh, a former provincial education official, was given eight years in prison for abusing powers and positions while performing duties.

Do Manh Tuan, another former education official, was slapped with a total punishment of ten years behind bars, the highest penalty announced at Thursday’s court, including three years for power abuse and and seven years for taking bribes.

Khuong Ngoc Chat, a former chief of the internal political security division of Hoa Binh Province’s police department, was punished with six-year imprisonment.

Four other offenders who are former education officials and teachers, including Diep Thi Hong Lien, Nguyen Khac Tuan, Nguyen Thi Thu Loan, and Nguyen Thi Hong Chung, were handed between 21 months and five years in jail each.

Meanwhile, Ho Chuc, a teacher at Thanh Ha High School in Lac Thuy District, was given a 30-month suspended sentence for giving bribes.

The remaining seven defendants were condemned to 15 to 30 months of suspended sentence for abusing powers and positions while performing duties.

Results of the National High School Examination, 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.

People gather in front of a court on a test-score manipulation in Hoa Binh Province, Vietnam, May 21, 2020. Photo: Hoang Hai / Tuoi Tre

People gather in front of a court for a test-score manipulation scandal in Hoa Binh Province, Vietnam, May 21, 2020. Photo: Hoang Hai / Tuoi Tre

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.

When exam results were released in early July 2018, suspicion was quickly raised on whether cheating had occurred as test scores by some candidates from Ha Giang, Son La, Hoa Binh and Lang Son, all northern provinces, were unusually high.

A police investigation was shortly launched and signs of test-score manipulation were found in three of the provinces, with Lang Son being the only province cleared of suspicion.

Judges found at Thursday’s trial that 65 students in Hoa Binh had had their test scores altered by the 15 aforementioned offenders to help them get admitted to universities and colleges.

Forty-five of them have been expelled.

The judges said that the criminal acts of the offenders are dangerous to society and violated exam regulations of the Ministry of Education and Training.

A trial for 12 people prosecuted for suspected roles in the manipulation of test scores in Son La also opened on Thursday morning.

Five people were sentenced to a combined 21 years in prison in Ha Giang in a trial that took place in October 2019.

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