Cyprus Mail

Ministry says mission accomplished after less than half of teaching candidates pass muster

By Evie Andreou

Officials on Monday said that despite the fact that only 37.2 per cent of around 5,000 who took the teaching exams passed, the goal had been achieved as only the most competent would now enter the state education system.

The results of the exams – which is part of the new appointment system taking into consideration each candidate’s exam results, their university degree grade, additional academic qualifications and teaching experience – were announced last Friday.

According to the ministry’s statistics, only 37.2 per cent of the 5,000 or so who took the exams passed. In total, 5,020 of almost 6,000 people who registered for the exams took the tests and of those, only 1,869 passed.

The lowest success rate was on the Greek philology exams, where only 6.8 per cent of the 799 people who took the exam got an overall pass grade.  They were tested in Greek language aptitude, in linguistics, literature, Latin, ancient Greek, history, and also took a skills test.  The lowest grades were in Latin and ancient Greek.

This, according to former education minister, Costas Kadis, who had introduced the reform during his stint in office, reveals an issue as regards the duties of philologists, who, according to existing legislation must be in a position to teach all of those subjects.

“We have an issue. Do we really expect our philologists to be able to teach everything? This is the case today,” Kadis told state broadcaster CyBC radio.

This failure, he said, revealed that today, there were people in state schools who work as philologists but who may not be in a position to teach all the subjects they should.

If it wasn’t for the Latin exam, Kadis said, more than 60 per cent of the people who took the Greek philology exams would have passed.

Low results were also evident in trade and economics with a 14.4 per cent success rate, and mathematics where only 17.9 per cent of the 536 who took the exam passed.

The overall success rate of the primary education exams – Greek language aptitude, skills essay, teaching of Greek and maths for primary schools –  was also low, as around only one in four passed of the 882 who were tested.

Candidates who took the pre-school teacher exams fared better as 44.5 per cent passed.

The best test results were among those who took the biology exam, which 90.4 of passed, followed by English – 85.4 per cent – and special learning with 80.5 per cent.

Permanent Secretary of the Education Ministry, Egly Pantelaki said that the goal of the exams had been achieved.

“The main goal was the entry into the educational system of excellent candidates both in knowledge and qualifications,” Pantelaki said.

Speaking to CyBC radio, Pantelaki said: “These results unfortunately confirm what we had been suspecting for years that some of those on old (waiting) lists were not in a position to enter education and teach our children, no matter how tragic and sad this is”.

Under the old system, graduates of any discipline merely had to write their names on the waiting list and wait their turn irrespective.

Kadis said that the new appointment system would ensure that only the most competent, most qualified people will be teaching in state schools.

The exams took place between September and October. Each candidate was tested in subjects corresponding to their teaching areas.

The introduction of a new appointment system was deemed necessary to ensure that state school teachers were truly qualified to teach, something which could not be guaranteed by the old system, based on appointment according to seniority on waiting lists.

Under a law passed in 2016, from September 2018 until August 31, 2027, some 50 per cent of appointments will be made from waiting lists and 50 per cent according to the new system. From September 2027, all appointments will be made based on merit.

The new teacher appointment system will take into consideration each candidate’s exam results, their university degree grade, additional academic qualifications and teaching experience.

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