UCA News


Public outcry over Vietnam exam scandal

Officials arrested for abuse of power after national exam marks were increased for some candidates

ucanews.com reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

ucanews.com reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Public outcry over Vietnam exam scandal

Candidates discuss tests during Vietnam's national exam in Ho Chi Minh City on June 26. (Photo by Mary Nguyen) 

Share this article :
Educators and students in Vietnam have accused education officials of working for interest groups after an unprecedented scandal over changing hundreds of national exam results in northern provinces.

State-run Vietnamnet newspaper reported on July 23 that Nguyen Thanh Hoai, head of the testing and quality assurance unit in Ha Giang province, was arrested for "abuse of power or position in performance of official duties."

The newspaper said Hoai was accused of handing keys to the room where candidates' test sheets were stored to his deputy Vu Trong Luong, enabling the latter to increase marks in over 330 test sheets on eight subjects, especially mathematics.

Luong, who was detained on July 20, took two hours to complete the changes.

Test sheets with increased marks belonged to 114 candidates. One is the daughter of Trieu Tai Vinh, party chief of the province.

The newspaper also reported that five education officials from Son La province were accused of violating exam regulations and changing marks in 29 literature test sheets.

The national high school graduation exam is considered a make-or-break event that determines if students can enter a good university.

The national exam requires candidates to undertake mandatory exams in mathematics, literature and a foreign language while choosing between natural sciences (physics, chemistry and biology) and social sciences (history, geography and ethics).

This year, 926,000 high school students in Vietnam took the national exam from June 25-27.

Paul Bui Van Hoang, who teaches mathematics at a high school in Ho Chi Minh City, said the scandal showed rampant corruption and bribery among officials and interest groups.

"Education officials increased scores in test sheets of students at local authorities' request or for their private interests," he said. "It is also a direct result of bad habits of running after scholastic achievements rather than quality of education. Teachers and officials from schools that have good exam results are rewarded."

Hoang said exam fraud is a crime that destroys students' futures and damages public trust in the national exam. "It is terrible that education officials have unfairly treated candidates who really strive to get good results from the exam," he said.

Hoang questioned how the country could develop if relatives of government officials and those with poor performance are allowed to join good colleges and universities.

"I have been in terrible shock for days after I heard the news," said national exam candidate Teresa Trinh Hoai An. "Fairness and honesty should have been top priority during the exam."

An, 18, said she was happy to have enough marks to enter a college of tourism after preparing well for the exam.

She said colleges and universities give admission to candidates based on their marks. "The scandal deprived good students of their chances to enter colleges," she added.

Tran Van Do, a former school inspector from Hai Phong City, said exam fraud could have happened in previous years in many places across the country.

The Ministry of Education and Training should ask localities to remark all test sheets to ensure fairness and true quality of the exam, Do said in a letter to Education Minister Phung Xuan Nha.

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM


Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."