OPINION

Exam results

Given that the panhellenic examinations for the last two years of senior high school decide which pupils will enter tertiary education, the results are naturally interpreted in terms of their effect on entry grades for each faculty. This is what candidates and their families focus on and, inevitably, so does analysis. Hence in years like this, when examination performance is poor, we spend more time predicting falling entry grade rates for each faculty rather than evaluating what the poor performance says about the level of our senior high schools and the university faculties that are less in demand. However reasonable this tendency may be, the results of the panhellenic exams require independent analysis, not only to determine any corrective measures the exam system needs, but also because we must be concerned that in exams considered easy, 25 percent of third-year senior high pupils and 50 percent of second-year pupils failed at least one subject. And it would be unforgivable not to be concerned that faculties in low demand will take in pupils who barely averaged a grade of 10 [out of 20], while schools with special lessons will have students with grades lower than five. One wonders what knowledge universities demand. Apart from creating concern, the results lead to certain conclusions. First, they confirm that students are examined in too many subjects and that the government correctly decided on reducing the number from nine to six. Second, the educational reform aimed at upgrading senior high schools has clearly failed at all levels. Not only is senior high school seen purely as a waiting room for university, but it is in decline, at whatever level the results reflect student performance. This decline is also recorded in the parallel growth of the unofficial education system which the reform was also supposed to curb. Tuition colleges have not just become a kind of back-up school, but a substitute for schooling, while both schools and tuition colleges seem to have joined forces for the worse. The various reforms announced by the government, however correct they may be, can obviously do nothing to combat this phenomenon. The national debate on education due to start in autumn must address this issue in full, and examine measures that can renew secondary education so that the senior high school-leaving certificate has value, and those who attain it are genuinely ready to pursue university studies.