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Our View: Pandering to the mob has led to a mockery of public education

If there was a strategic plan by politicians, parties, unions and parents associations to undermine public education and destroy its last remaining shreds of credibility it would not have gone anywhere near as well as the cacophony of protests we have been subjected to in the last two months.

The overall message, endorsed by the new president, who promised during the election campaign to scrap the twice-yearly exams, is that public education was run by incompetents that did not have a clue what they were doing and were playing games with students’ future. That this was the view of parents, their kids, self-interested union bosses and politicians pandering to public opinion meant that the expertise of educationalists had to be overruled.

Instead, decisions will be taken based on the emotional nonsense uttered by politicians, representatives of parents’ associations, union bosses and schoolkids about the January exams. They spoke about children as victims of the education ministry, which had created psychological problems for them and had destroyed their future. This absurd exaggeration has prevailed as a reflection of reality that needed to be addressed immediately.

And the way to do this, according to the mob of experts, was for the results of the January exams not to count in the overall grade of each student. President Nikos Christodoulides had previously endorsed this view, saying that the final exams of the year should only be a small part of the final result! While this suggestion had broad support and had been incorporated in a bill proposal by Akel for the scrapping of the January exams, the state legal services advised the bill was unconstitutional.

There would also be a moral issue. Students who worked hard and did well in last January’s exams – thus in line for good grades – would be penalised for following the school rules and preparing for the exams. Is this fair? Why has all of society united to protect the students that did not prepare for the exams and consequently did not do very well? The victims of this sordid saga are the conscientious students whose hard work and good marks will count for much less, if not nothing, because this is what the Akel-led mob wants.

This mob has made a mockery of public education for the students. Does nobody realise that what is done is done and nobody has the right to subsequently diminish the validity of exam results that were a legitimate part of the public school curriculum? The president was committing a big mistake in taking the side of the mob, and stating that the January results would have reduced validity. Public school exam results must never be changed by public demand or presidential decree because public education will lose its standing completely.

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