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September 13, 2006

Exam results outcry in Greece

It seems every country has some sort of media outcry when the annual exam results are announced. In the UK it always seems to be that exams have got easier, kids are more stupid, and the whole system has made the weather worse, or something to that effect.

Over here it is quite different. The college entrance exam results have just come out, and the number of passes is much lower than expected, even with a pass rate of just 50%. 18,768 college places will consequently go unfilled. Clearly, given the coverage in the press, it is some sort of national disgrace.

But, are the Greeks outraged because their education system is failing to prepare so many pupils for their tertiary education opportunities?

Well not all of them, anyway. Most of the outrage stems from the fact that with less students accepted for TEI colleges, landlords will have to lower their rents, cafes that rely on student trade will be less busy, and small towns that revolve around the student euro will suffer economic hardship.

So now there is a growing public campaign, led by 42 mayors from the municipalities that have the colleges with empty spaces, to retrospectively lower the pass-mark to allow more students to be accepted into colleges. There are protests and strikes to support their cause.

Of course, reflecting on the difference between the UK and Greece, that doesn't seem that more bizarre than listening to people in the UK saying that A-Levels are no longer "fit for purpose". They are clamouring for a return to the old days when only a certain percentage of pupils each year were allowed to obtain top marks.

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