Cyprus Mail

Secondary teachers threaten to strike over exam changes

SECONDARY education teachers’ union Oelmek said they would take strike measures unless the education ministry changes its mind about four-monthly exams in high schools which will be introduced in the coming school year.

The union also decided to push for amendments in school regulations to ban pupils carrying their mobile phones into class.

According to the new chairman of Oelmek, Costas Hadjisavvas, the union continues to react to the introduction of four-monthly exams in state lyceums in the next school year. The union’s members upheld on Thursday a previous decision for strike measures in the case the education ministry applies the existing law concerning the introduction of four-monthly exams, he said. He is the union’s new chairman as of Thursday.

“The measures are not a goal in itself, the aim is to solve serious and sensitive issues in a way that it is most beneficial for pupils,” Hadjisavvas told the Cyprus Mail.

Education minister Costas Hambiaouris told MPs last week his ministry was ready to implement the new exams system.

Hambiaouris had said 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 pupils, parents and teachers but that the new law must be enforced.

According to Hadjisavvas the union submitted some two months ago a comprehensive proposal on student assessment and had a meeting last week with Hambiaouris to present to him its provisions.

They are to have another meeting possibly next week to continue the dialogue.

Depending on the outcome, the union will decide whether to take strike measures or not.

Hadjisavvas said if the new exams system is implemented as is, it would bring pupils and parents to their knees due to the stress the children would be going through but also because that would force them to take additional afternoon classes.

But it would also mean shrinking teaching time as schools would close for the exams period.

The union as suggested a 90-minute test in December instead which will be the same test in all schools, and a 45-minute one earlier in the year, in September or October.

Hadjisavvas said the minister has agreed to their proposal but that it would also have to be approved by parliament.

He also said that the union members have agreed on pushing for a change in school regulations to ban the transfer of mobile phones by pupils in the classroom.

At the moment, regulations stipulate that pupils may bring their mobile phones in the classroom but must keep them deactivated in their school bags.

Many pupils however disregard the rules and use their mobile phones during classes which is distracting teachers but also encourages delinquent behavior, he said.

Hadjisavvas said the union would submit their request to the education ministry.



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