'Solid evidence' officials involved: minister
Sermsak balks at DSI call for all results to be invalidatedEducation officials found to have facilitated cheating in the assistant-teacher recruitment exams will face both disciplinary and criminal action, Deputy Education Minister Sermsak Pongpanich said yesterday.
Speaking at a press conference, Sermsak said the scam required the participation of many people, including provincial and central agency officials.
"There is solid evidence," he said, with Department of Special Investigation (DSI) chief Tarit Pengdith by his side.
Sermsak, however, remained reluctant to embrace the DSI's recommendation that the Education Ministry invalidate the results of the exams, saying that not all test-takers were involved.
The deputy education minister said he would present information on the cheating scandal to the Teacher Civil Service and Educational Personnel Commission, which will convene a meeting tomorrow to decide whether to invalidate the exams.
Sermsak has asked the DSI to investigate the alleged cheating. Of 9,249 applicants for assistant-teacher positions, 486 had unusually high scores. There were 2,161 vacancies.
According to Sermsak, preliminary probes by the Education Ministry and the DSI found solid evidence of cheating.
Tarit said evidence of cheating had been found in the Office of Basic Education Commission (Obec) Udon Thani Office Area 3, Obec Yasothon Office Area 1, Obec Nakhon Ratchasima Office Area 2 and Obec Khon Kaen Office Area 3.
Tarit said that in some cases, applicants had hired others to sit the exams on their behalf, and in other cases the cheating applicants had received correct answers for exam questions in advance.
"Some cheaters memorised the answers. Others smuggled communications devices into the exam rooms," he added.
Tarit said the cheating scheme had clearly been planned from the outset of the project to recruit new assistant teachers.
"Normally, Obec's local offices are in charge of designing exam questions. But this time, Obec was in charge," he said.
Officials from Obec's local offices are usually assigned to collect exam papers, but this time, Thailand Post was hired to make the deliveries.
Tarit added that the cheating exam-takers received coaching on how to cheat a few days before the recruitment exams took place.
The DSI board will be asked to take up the scam as a special case at its meeting on March 27.
"We now have clear targets for further investigation," Tarit said.
Sermsak said exam questions and answers had been leaked in all subjects featured in the recruitment exams.
"Some insiders were clearly involved because the cheaters seem to know in which areas they should sit for exams," he said.