OPINION

Education system is in deep trouble

The continuing failure of aspiring schoolteachers to pass examinations set by the state Supreme Council for Personnel Selection (ASEP) highlights once again the plethora of insubstantial university degrees and deficiencies in the education sector, and shows just how far removed this sector is from the needs of society and of the labor market. The fact that just one in three candidates passed the threshold for appointment to a teaching post in the most recent ASEP exams in 2002 shows that something is amiss. Either the examination itself or the education provided by our universities is to blame, or – most probably – both. The way in which the examinations are set has come under fire, with experts arguing that it is impossible to assess the scientific knowledge and teaching caliber of candidates merely on the basis of their answers to 40 multiple-choice questions. The ritualistic and superficial methodology of the ASEP examination merely propagates the vicious circle of a school system that is already ailing, with candidates continuing to use the same recommended handbooks and cramming courses. And despite the fact that a law was passed in 1997, providing aspiring teachers with a special teaching proficiency certificate on completion of two academic semesters, the situation has not improved. Meanwhile, new universities and departments (generally of dubious substance) have been mushrooming across the country. They do more to serve the expansionist desires of the multiplying university lobbies and the narrow interests of the local communities rather than the needs of the country at large. Indeed, it is difficult to see what these newfangled degrees can offer to the labor market and to established and emerging professions. Unfortunately, many university departments merely protect students, temporarily distancing them from the specter of facing the workforce. Aspiring teachers are now seeking the necessary academic and professional qualifications in postgraduate studies, extending their student existence into their thirties and saddling their families with an unbearable financial burden. Insubstantial degrees, anxiety about finding a job in the state sector, lack of organization in education policy – the outcome is stressed-out pupils who are transformed into weak students and then become ill-trained teachers. This propagation of the same dead-end system is undermining the future of education and of the country, which needs educated citizens and capable professionals, not holders of a piece of paper who essentially lack qualifications…