State high school teachers are preparing to strike over their opposition to a semester-based exam schedule, with OELMEK union calling on its members to show no interest in putting the exams together.
According to Kathimerini Cyprus, public education is in a “volatile situation” following a decision by the PSEM Student Council to call on their peers to walk out of class on Thursday, September 19, for two class periods. A PSEM statement said the walkout would take place as a show of solidarity with their teachers.
The student walkout call came on Tuesday morning only hours after OELMEK state teachers union said their colleagues would go on strike on Wednesday, September 25. According to Kathimerini, OELMEK had a strong disagreement with the education ministry over a timeline for putting in place, for the first time, an exam schedule on a semester basis.
A letter dated last week was sent to public high school principals, asking for teachers to indicate potential interest in putting together exams questions for mid-January, which would mark the end of the fall semester and the beginning of spring semester. The letter also included guidelines and criteria, along with the amount of work needed to complete the work successfully.
Up until last year, exam-based grading took place at the end of the academic year, where students previously had no basis during the year to get valuable feedback
OELMEK reportedly called on its members to show no interest in putting the exams together as well as take no part in the process.
Unions have been vehemently opposed to semesters, saying it would be too much administrative work that would leave the educator with less qualitative time to address the learning needs of their students.
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.
Experts in favour of the semester system also argue that teachers would have opportunities 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.
End-of-semester exams would also mean that students and teachers would only focus on half the material at each time, instead of being tested on an entire year’s examinable content just once at the end of school year in the summer.
Other unions have already indicated possible strike action last week, with POED officials organizing a vote on a number of issues, ranging from teacher transfers to air conditioning in classrooms. OLTEK union is also expected to make decisions at some point this week.