Organized parents in Cyprus are calling on high school students to call off a strike scheduled for Wednesday, as critics warn that protests against semester-based exams are getting out of hand.
Student groups, who have been demonstrating against the implementation of exams on a semester basis, announced on Monday that they would boycott classes for the entire day on Wednesday.
The announcement came days following a referendum conducted by the PSEM national student council, where students voted to intensify efforts in their fight to overturn a decision for end-of-term examinations implemented this academic year in tenth grade (first grade Lyceum) for the end of Fall and Spring terms.
PSEM argued they were not being 'absolutists' in their demands and accused the government of undermining the student movement
Students, who rejected criticism that said they were taking extreme measures, argued they were not “absolutists” in their demands but simply protesting against lack of dialogue. They further accused the Education Ministry of undermining the role of the student movement.
Critics have been taking to social media accusing the student leadership of looking for an excuse to skip class, with PSEM saying they did not wish to boycott classes but felt compelled to do so after they said Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou had gone back on a promise to meet with them.
In a last ditch effort to avert another school crisis, organized parents called on the students to wait for a special report by a task force committee that was assigned to evaluate the new system.
In a statement issued by the Federation of Parents Associations for Secondary and Technical Education, parents said they respected the right of organized students to express their views.
But the association also warned their members, parents and guardians, that students were being marked absent each time the teens walk out.
“After January 13, we are now well into the second semester and time is valuable to all students, especially the seniors who are prepping for entrance exams,” the statement said.
Parents call for maturity and wisdom
The association also spoke of the need for “maturity and wisdom” while waiting for the results of an evaluation of the new semester plan. They also called on PSEM to choose dialogue in the spirit of cooperation and reject extreme measures.
Up until last year, grading based on exams took place at the end of the academic year in all grades, with proponents of the semester system saying students previously had no basis during the year to get valuable feedback.
End-of-semester exams meant 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.
PSEM says students find semester exams “too stressful” arguing that the new system neither provides all-round development nor encourages critical thinking.