All Grade 12 Students Passed the Exam: It Is an Act of Compassion…

For the last several days, the government’s decision of allowing all grade-12 students to automatically pass the National Examination has been heatedly debated on social media and, of course, in Cafés. Since the debate has been so animated, Sothie and Samnang could not resist meeting one another in order to discuss this. Between the value of the high school diploma, justice, equity and compassion, which one is the best option to choose?



Sothie: The prime minister announced that all grade-12 students will automatically pass the national examination. Is that the right thing to do?



Samnang: If that is not right, what is wrong then? And you, Sothie, what are your thoughts on this?



Sothie: I don’t think it really is the right way to do this.



Samnang: Not really the right way in terms of what?



Sothie: Well, the lazy and incompetent students are able to pass. In the meantime, competent students who have the potential of getting good grades are unable to meet their expectations. It is unfair for those who studied so hard to get there!



Samnang: Have you thought of the disparity that exists between the students in cities and the students in rural areas? Those in urban areas have a better chance of accessing online learning. What about the students in the countryside? Do you think they have not studied enough during the pandemic? Is this justice to you, Sothie?



Sothie: Well, this high school diploma will be worthless since everyone simply passed the examination.



Samnang: The worth of the diploma depends on what people think. Personally, allowing all students to pass the examination is not really a good way to do this. Yet, it still is somehow the better way in the difficult context of COVID-19. 



Sothie: Better? Better how?



Samnang: It is better since any other option would unavoidably lead to injustice in the circumstances. In this context, the decision was made according to justice and equity. And in view of this context, the decision was made out of compassion by the government. It was also decided based on understanding and sympathy during this difficult time. What do you say when I explain it this way, Sothie?



Sothie: Well, your idea does make some sense. But, how about the really good students who frequently receive scholarships based on their outstanding grades?



Samnang: That is simple. The universities should conduct a different form of examination in order to pick the best students for the scholarships. Moreover, universities can also look at students’ performance based on their high-school report books.  



Sothie: Wow! You actually have quite a good idea, Samnang.


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