OELMEK teachers voted on Monday against a proposed strike on exam day, essentially turning their backs on the leadership that has been calling on members to resist a new semester-based system.
Nearly 5000 members of OELMEK state teachers union voted on Monday morning, following an earlier decision by the leadership to stand up against the implementation of semester-based fall and spring exams.
About 55% voted against a proposal that would have prompted a large number of state teachers to stay home on exam day in December.
The vote was an upset for the OELMEK leadership, which had been calling on members to resist the recent changes by the government that were voted into law earlier this year.
The education ministry says the government is prepared to take action if teachers went on strike, including the possibility of calling civil servants to proctor the exams
There had been signs early on that some groups within the trade union did not share the leadership’s approach. While these groups supported the introduction of semesterly schedules for term exams and student evaluations, they still called for improvements in the new programme.
The education ministry says the government is prepared to take action if teachers went on strike, including the possibility of calling civil servants to proctor the exams.
Government officials further clarified that if students fail to take the exam the end of the fall term, they would be required to take a final exam in June which would be comprehensive by covering material from both fall and spring terms.
In the meantime, PSEM Student Council is calling students to walk out of class on Tuesday during third and fourth periods.
A statement from the student union warned the education ministry that if it fails to submit amendments to the House, new measures would be much stronger this month but also in December.
Students argue that semester-based exams will lead to stress, while the government says the new system would enable teachers to point out early on any weaknesses to students, in the middle of the year, thus enabling pupils to focus on making improvements in the following semester.
Up until last year, grading based on exams took place at the end of the academic year, with proponents of the semester system saying students previously had no basis during the year to get valuable feedback.
End-of-semester exams would also mean that students and teachers would only focus on half the material in each term, instead of being tested on an entire year’s examinable content just once at the end of school year in the summer.
Story updated with results after the vote