Around 5,500 members of the secondary education teachers’ union Oelmek will be called to a referendum in January to state if they agree with the introduction of the midterm exams in high schools as per the regulations to be introduced in September, the union’s head Yiannos Socratous said on Tuesday.
The union’s general representatives from all districts agreed last week to bring back the issue of the introduction of midterm exams, which was voted by the House plenum last year as part of the new regulations for high schools.
“This issue has caused serious friction within the union so we wanted the opinion of those who are directly involved, and who are also scientists, we tend to forget that. Their opinion is very important,” Socratous told the Cyprus Mail.
He added that the new school regulations, that are to be introduced in the next school year, must be amended.
According to the announcement of the general representatives, the result of the referendum will be binding and will determine Oelmek’s stance in the upcoming consultations between the education ministry and the House education committee on the new regulations.
The new regulations are deemed by the education ministry as an important reform of the educational system as they contribute to a great extent to the streamlining of day to day school operations. The ministry maintains that the introduction of midterm exams will help students as they will receive feedback on their performance so that they can work on their weaknesses.
The union however feels that midterm exams will fail the goals they aspire to and on the contrary pupils will take even more private lessons, causing a serious strain in family budgets.
The introduction of the new rules, the union said, conflicts with the philosophy of the new curricula and the student success indicators and at the same time creates “an extremely stressful and burdensome school programme, which will de facto have a negative impact on teachers, pupils and the operation of school units”.
Teachers also fear that it would dramatically decrease teaching time while at the same time “the volume of the curriculum remains enormous”.
“Consequently, teaching will have to align with traditional teacher-centred models as there will be no time for innovative learner-centred approaches, for experiential and active learning, projects, etc,” the announcement said.
The timeframes set, it said, are so stifling that not only will they not work, but will cause rigidities and distortions in terms of procedures, creating many organisational problems and dysfunction in schools.