By Dr Panayiotis K. Mavros
We have dealt in the past with the allocation of extra places by the University of Cyprus to private school students with international qualifications or all those students excelling and being given places to other overseas universities, which does not affect places allocated to state schools students.
We forwarded strong evidence for this practice, which does justice to private school students-Attorney General’s approval was granted. We feel proud of our stance now that the University’s position on the aforementioned matter has been legalised.
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Unfortunately, state secondary school teacher union OELMEK who waged a war on the University still stick to their own guns, insisting on naïve arguments that can be regarded as the culmination of irrationality, aiming at victimising 10,000 students, for private education students constitute 17% of the school population.
OELMEK cannot digest their defeat and repeat themselves instead of accepting their defeat decently. Justice has been done and nothing can change things, no matter how much OELMEK scream their heads off.
Attempting to refresh our memory on this important matter, we refer to OELMEK’s argument that the National University Entrance Exams (NUEE) are more difficult than GCE A Level exams, which strikingly betrays their ignorance concerning exams of this nature, for a GCE A Level examination is not only stiffer than the NUEE but, more importantly, contains questions requiring critical and creative thinking that in no way can the candidate find in a book, in order to memorise and dryly transfer on the paper.
As regards OELMEK’s claim that the aforementioned final decision on the extra places to private school students does not do justice to state school students, we state without qualifications that the unfair discrimination concerns private school students who, up to now, have been obliged to sit the NUEE, although they have chosen to follow a different curriculum with the blessing and recognition of the state, which leads to international qualifications.
Thousands of Cypriot students are admitted to good British universities with the Lyceum Leaving Certificate. Would they be happy if they were required to succeed in three or four GCE A Level subjects, the standard requirement that British students should meet?
These facts, of course, are regarded as trivialities by OELMEK’s people, who labour under the delusion that they can always have their own way. Could one name a single university worldwide with absolute uniformity as regards admission criteria without having the authority to differentiate the above criteria according to its wise judgment? It seems that only OELMEK can…
In conclusion, I would like to point out that private education students live in a democratic country and choose the school of their taste also bearing the financial burden, which, by the way, relieves the government of €7,000 for each student.
Therefore, we should respect their choice which entitles them to a place in the University of Cyprus with their GCE qualifications, based on their curriculum, which is recognised by the State. And we should firmly bear in mind that private education students are also our own children. Consequently, it is the state’s utmost duty to also provide for them and help them in any and every way.
After all, the legalisation of the extra places approved does justice to private schools which do not constitute a threat to state schools, since there is no measure of comparison as regards standards, due to the fact that private schools are selective, which speaks for itself.
However, I have to point out once more that I personally believe educational reform, being in the process of materialisation – if it does not go astray – will provide the right opportunities, challenges and stimuli for professionalism in depth, which will undoubtedly result in the raising of standards at public schools.
Dr Panayiotis K. Mavros BA, MA, PhD is a former Secondary Education Inspector and Chief Education Officer, Ministry of Education and Culture