Common sense seems have won out as secondary-school teachers have voted against going on strike over the four-monthly exams. It wasn’t a major victory because 45 per cent still voted for taking industrial action compared with the 55 per cent who decided not to strike. But it was enough.
The four-monthly exams were approved by the House this year after agreement was finally reached with the teachers’ unions and we’ve not heard the end of it since. The exams are due to take place from December 9 to 19 and it remains to be seen whether it will all go to plan.
While the teachers’ referendum could be regarded as an overall victory, it’s still worrying that almost half of them, some 2,200, voted to go on strike, which essentially means there are 2,200 people in the education system with an entitlement mentality that is rubbing off on impressionable children.
This was evident in that after the vote, the organisation of secondary-school students, Psem, continued to call on their peers not to go to school today in protest. Last week Psem called on the teachers to vote for strike action in the referendum, and 45 per cent of them did just that.
Sounds very much like the tail trying to wag the dog, even though the real reason was that those teachers who voted to strike, clearly did not want the extra work involved. The motivation of those who voted not to strike is less clear. Was it a sudden attack of conscience, a fear of breaking the law or did they finally see the light and realise their job is to educate children, not follow their lead?
On its Facebook page, the students’ organisation also warned that if the ministry does not submit an amendment to the legislation on the four-monthly exams to the House “without delay” the students will take more drastic measures this month and next.
However, it is hard to see that without teachers’ support, which has now been removed from the equation for the most part after the referendum, how the students can possibly take drastic measures and what on earth could those be other than boycotting class or holding a street protest?
Apart from causing strife to their parents, they are only harming themselves and their futures as the education ministry will reportedly be giving a failing grade to students who refuse to take the exams, and they will end up having to take them next year instead.
Without the backing of the majority of teachers and with the ministry continuing to put its foot down, there isn’t much they can do to make anyone else care whether they take their exams or not.
It was about time teachers stopped pandering to the whims of students and time the education ministry stopped pandering to teachers. Maybe now they can get on with the job of educating and being educated.