Secondary teacher union Oelmek and the secondary parents’ association on Monday repeated their request for twice-yearly examinations to be scrapped, in a letter addressed to the Education Minister Athena Michaelidou, and Pavlos Mylonas, head of the House education committee.

The letter argued that problems created by the exams include a loss of teaching time, promotion of rote learning, and stress placed on staff and pupils, all of which erode the quality of education.

Furthermore, the letter argues, the rationale set by the ministry for the examinations, which includes formative assessment, improvement of learning outcomes and reduction of truancy, has not been borne out in reality.

The union and the parents’ association have called for a discussion of a new student evaluation system to be implemented for the next school year, as well as a solution so that this year’s graduates will not suffer setbacks due to the “existing failed system”.

They request, in particular, the abolition of three exams in the final year of lyceum which they say are exhausting for students, and suggest that at least the mid-term exam be abolished.

“For the [school leavers] exams must be held at the end of the school year,” the letter says, [proposing] a single exam for securing the school-leaving certificate followed by a state-wide examination for students seeking acceptance into public universities in Cyprus and Greece, as was the case until 2008.”

For the younger year groups, the letter proposes doing away with all but a single end-of-year exam, wherein students will be assessed on no more than 60 per cent of the year’s curriculum. Material to be included in the exam should be announced after the Easter holidays.

This final exam result should not count for more than 30 per cent of a student’s overall score, the proposal says.

Grading should be determined through a combined review of marks from the first and second semester, obtained though oral evaluation and tests, and the end-of-year exam.

At the same time, clear limits should be set as to the number of tests given during a school year for each separate subject, with a maximum total number allowed per week.

On Thursday President Nikos Christodoulides appeared to share the unions and parents’ view saying that twice-yearly exams at schools have failed, and that legal reforms need to be made to abolish them.

However, in an attempt to clarify on Friday, Michaelidou said the exams at the end of the school year’s first and second semesters would not be scrapped, but rather the methodology and the manner in which they are conducted will be changed.