A senior education official in Hoa Binh Province is the latest casualty of the ongoing probe into a national high school exam fraud.
Nguyen Quang Vinh, 52, head of the Testing and Quality Assurance unit under Hoa Binh’s education department, was arrested on Friday and placed under criminal investigation for “abuse of power or position in performance of official duties.”
Police from the Ministry of Public Security have also conducted searches of his house and workplace.
Vinh’s arrest is part of an ongoing criminal investigation into a national high school exam fraud in the province, in which the answer sheets of some candidates were altered to raise their marks.
Last month, police also arrested Vinh’s subordinate Nguyen Khac Tuan and Do Manh Tuan, vice principal of a boarding school for ethnic minorities in Lac Thuy District, on similar charges.
The exam fraud was first discovered after the Ministry of Education and Training released the official test results of all candidates nationwide on July 11, and Hoa Binh was among a number of provinces that had the public question their candidates’ results.
Out of the province’s over 8,900 candidates, 24 scored at least 9 on a scale of 10 in Maths, making up 4.7 percent of all candidates with such high scores in the country.
Hoa Binh’s education department then launched an inspection into its exam grading process but reported no violation, prompting the education ministry to request a police investigation on July 24.
An initial investigation soon discovered signs that a number of candidates’ multiple-choice answer sheets had been altered to raise their results.
Hoa Binh is the third province caught in what is one of Vietnam’s biggest education scandals ever, besides the nearby Ha Giang and Son La Provinces.
The investigation in Ha Giang has so far led to the arrests of two senior education officials, who were found to have heavily altered the results of over 330 test sheets belonging to 114 candidates to increase their scores.
In Son La, six officials, including the provincial education department’s deputy director, have been placed under criminal investigation.
Vietnam’s national high school graduation exam is considered to be a make-or-break event for the students, determining if they can enter a good university or not.
Most families in Vietnam view it as a crucial step that helps decide their children’s future career life, and thus the high school years and the exam season in particular are usually a stressful family affair.
The exam requires candidates to undertake mandatory exams in Math, Literature and Foreign Language, while making a choice between natural sciences (Physics, Chemistry and Biology) and social sciences (History, Geography and Ethics).
This year, the examination lasted for three days, from June 25-27.