The education ministry is ready to implement the system of four-monthly exams in state lyceums in the next school year, Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris told the House education committee on Wednesday.
But opposition party Akel announced it would submit a bill to prevent this happening on Friday, insisting the views of many critics of the changes have not been heard.
Speaking after the session, Hambiaouris said the ministry presented a series of measures which have already been implemented and others to further support the relevant legislation.
The implementation will be continuously monitored and improvements will be made if necessary, he said.
“From the very first day, children will be told what they will learn, the subjects to be covered and what the expected learning outcomes will be,” he said.
“They will know during the first four months what will be taught at any time, how they will be examined, and how they will be supported.”
He highlighted that Cyprus had among the highest education budgets but the lowest learning outcomes and the four-monthly exam periods was a way of addressing this.
He acknowledged there were divergent views amongst students, parents and teachers but that the new law must be enforced.
“You cannot have 100 per cent agreement, but this is a democracy, there is a legislation, you go ahead and see what you can do,” he said.
He said that in his many meetings with students it was clear that they had been misinformed about the benefits of having regular exams.
“They did not have a clear picture and that the four monthly exams would work for the benefit of the children themselves,” he said.
He added that reservations by parents had also been taken into account and included in the proposal presented to the education committee.
The new law will be implemented for the first two classes of the lyceum in 2019 to 2020, and for the third year in 2020-2021.
Children will no longer have many tests during the first four months, as they do at the moment.
Sixty per cent of the pupils’ assessment will be based on other tasks such as homework, classroom participation and social contributions, so there will be less stress and reduced competition.
“The big exam is a 90-minute exam which is announced beforehand, nothing else.”
While the minister insists that the changes mean fewer exams, less competition and greater critical thinking, student group have held a series of protests, saying schools would be turned into exam centres.