Public education was taken to the next level of absurdity on Monday when the organisation representing secondary school students, known as Psem, urged their teachers to vote for strike measures next Monday when their unions will hold a so-called referendum on the introduction of four-monthly exams. This followed a meeting of representatives of Psem with the technical school teachers’ union Oeltek.
Secondary teachers’ unions will have a vote on whether to take ‘dynamic action’ against the four-monthly exams on Monday despite the fact that these are enshrined in law. The four-monthly exams were approved by the legislature earlier this year, after agreement was reached with the leaderships of the teaching unions Oeltek and Oelmek, which ensured the new system was watered down as much as possible.
Will teachers now vote to take strike action in defiance of the law? Will they go on strike to stop the implementation of the law because their students are urging them to do so? And how will the state respond to such an event – will it respect what our demagogue politicians call the ‘sacred right to strike’? All these questions can be avoided if teachers vote against strike measures on Monday, even though they have been known to defy the union leaders.
Meanwhile, the teenage unionists are set to meet later in the week to decide what measures they would take to prevent the start of the four-monthly exam system next month. Would Psem call on students not to go to school, or refuse to sit the December exams? We doubt they would do anything so stupid, but it would help if a head teacher or some other education authority figure spoke a bit bluntly to students, answering the nonsense they utter about schools becoming “exam centres increasing students’ stress.”
The children should be told that schools are exam centres, because this is how, rightly or wrongly, each student’s performance has traditionally been evaluated. Becoming accustomed to sitting exams from a young age, two or three times a year, is a good thing because it encourages them to work in a more disciplined and methodical way. It also prepares them for the tests they will sit later in life, either to get into university or for a job.
It benefits students that public schools will become exam centres because this is good preparation for a life of exams that awaits them. And this authority figure could also explain to the teenagers that the main reason their teachers opposition to four-monthly exams is because it would mean more work for them. Educational considerations are not a concern.