The absurdity of having an organisation made up of teenage students, known by the acronym Psem, behaving like a militant union and calling for the immediate scrapping of twice-yearly exams at public schools, has gone too far.
On Monday the underaged unionists of Psem called on all secondary school students to boycott classes on Wednesday. It said it had called for the boycott of classes after the overwhelming majority of students voted in favour of stepping up the measures against exams every four months.
Psem said that “the need to step up the measures emerged as a result of the absence of substantive dialogue and the downgrading of the role of the student movement by the ministry of education.” The children were angry because the education minister had promised to invite them for talks in January with other groups so Psem could submit its proposals, regarding the exams, but in statements he made he said he would engage in dialogue only with parents and teachers, “ignoring those that were most directly involved in the procedure, the students.”
We have arrived at the stage at which 15-, 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds, because they have organised themselves into a mock-union, are under the illusion it is their democratic right to dictate how frequently they should sit exams, overruling the education ministry which took the decision for four-monthly exams and the legislature which voted it through. These children who know nothing about educational matters, who cannot be trusted to vote in elections until they turn 18, are threatening action to get their way, like their teachers do.
If it is true that the new education minister, Prodromos Prodromou, had refused to involve the kids in the dialogue about exams, he should be applauded. He should not simply ignore Psem, but also explain publicly that he has no intention of engaging in talks with teenagers about exams or other educational issues, because the government’s education policy is not negotiable. This policy was formulated by education experts who are much better-qualified to decide how exams should be organised, than teenagers whose primary concern it is to have as easy a school life as possible.
Prodromou might be criticised and accused of being undemocratic, by populist parties like Akel that have been encouraging Psem’s childish militancy. He needs, however, to take a public stand for common sense, against the lunacy of kids having a say on when and how often they should sit exams. Someone has to end the sheer madness of teenage kids posing as education experts and demanding to dictate education policy while threatening to boycott classes if they do not get their way.