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School follies

Education Minister Ján Mikolaj, perhaps the wiser for the recent difficulties with the Monitor nationwide test for grade nines, reacted more cautiously to the leaking of the English-language final exam for high school seniors.

Education Minister Ján Mikolaj, perhaps the wiser for the recent difficulties with the Monitor nationwide test for grade nines, reacted more cautiously to the leaking of the English-language final exam for high school seniors. He at least admitted that a problem had occurred, and that the police were looking into the leak.

The most important thing is that the graduation exams are going ahead. The central exam committee decided that there was no reason to halt them, which is good news for students and teachers. Even so, the situation is not reassuring, not least for the shadow of uncertainty as to whether students will have to sit the exams again, like their predecessors two years ago.

Precisely because it was students and teachers who most felt the results, the public must be told who cast doubt on the final exams, and above all why. It is even more important to find out how these leaks are occurring, and to put an end to them.

Nationwide finals are used in many surroundings countries. In comparison with them, however, the Slovak State Pedagogical Institute has to make do with far fewer people and far less money to perform its tasks. The final exams, as we have seen, are also affected by political pressures.

Former Education Minister Martin Fronc made personnel changes at the Institute after some schools received exam questions along with the answers in 2005, a mistake that has not been explained to this day. Further organizational changes followed elections.

Work on the new final exams should be shielded from political arguments, such as between the current and former minister. Even more important, a project as wide-ranging as the preparation of final exams, their distribution and above all their security, cannot be done on a shoestring budget. It requires truly professional conditions. The education minister will thus have to concede that this is an area where we should not try to save money.


Pravda, March 29

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