Cyprus Mail

Our View: Put an end to the insanity in educational employment

THE ABILITY of the unions and the education ministry officials to come up with ways of undermining meritocracy in state education is quite astonishing. On Tuesday we heard of another absurd rule that influenced the hiring of teachers – graduates applying for state teaching jobs are given merit points if they have been unemployed which might give them the advantage over a graduate who had been working.

Applicants earn merit points for a variety of reasons, which could play a decisive part in the hiring of teachers, given that ability, experience and quality of degree are not taken into account in the hiring process. While helping the unemployed find work might seem a good idea, as a general principle, offering an advantage, through merit-points, to the jobless is insane. The assumption that someone who had been out of work is more deserving of a job is deeply flawed.

The truth is that not all graduates are unemployed because of the recession – some might have been without work because they were lazy, unmotivated or were disinterested in their subject. They may have applied to private schools, which have a much more rational recruitment policy that the state, and been turned down; worse still, they may have chosen to have remained unemployed because this would earn them merit points when applying for a state teaching job.

On Tuesday, the teachers working at the State Institutes for Learning (KIE) on contracts held a demonstration in protest against the education ministry’s decision not to award merit points for unemployment. The decision, they claimed, would put them at a disadvantage when the ministry would be hiring teachers for the KIE in September as it would open the way for teachers with full-time jobs to apply.

This seems to be an exaggeration, as education ministry officials cannot be that stupid – rewarding state school teachers with afternoon jobs at the KIE, which exist to help students because of the inadequacy of state school education. It would also be absurd to have teachers working in the afternoons as well as it would make them even less productive in their morning job. Of course, anything could be expected from a ministry that awarded merit points for unemployment and only now has decided that it was not a very smart idea.

Perhaps this could be seen as a step in the right direction, an indication that the policy-makers at the education ministry finally realised that the reason for the existence of the state education is not to reduce the number of unemployed graduates.

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