Reforms in the education system spark protests and reactions in FYROM

Reforms in the education system spark protests and reactions in FYROM

IBNA Special Report

Skopje, December 15, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Naser Pajaziti

The warnings and decisions of the government of FYROM for reforms in education and the application of state exams has sparked reactions and protests.

In the recent months, student organizations have held protests against the government decision to apply state exams, while the government considered the protest as encouraged by the Macedonian opposition. Students say that the application of this state law is against the Constitution and that for this issue, they demand an open debate between educational institutions and student associations.

Ademi: The ministry’s objective is to increase the quality of universities

Minister of Education and Science, Abdilaqim Ademi told IBNA that the reforms and the application of the external exams for students aim at increasing the quality of the quality of universities and to test the knowledge of new professionals who want to come out of universities.

“This bill with the legal changes has five measures which will be taken in education, among which is the state test which will take place twice during the studies, while the test itself will contain questions from the study years. The state test will be organized by university professors and there will be no limits as to how many times a student can sit the exam. According to the government, the state exam will contribute in increasing the quality of universities”, minister Ademi said.

According to him, this decision doesn’t affect the autonomy of universities and the process of Bologna and it doesn’t increase the load of students. Minister of Education is planning the creation of the Academy of Teachers which will function as a special legal entity. With these changes, students who complete the Pedagogic Academy, cannot be employed as teachers if they do not pass the exam of the Academy of Teachers and if they don’t receive a license.

Students will continue to hold protests

While the government is determined not to withdraw from its plans even after two student protests, student associations say that they are ready to continue protests, until the ministry withdraws from its idea to apply the state exam.

Darko Malinovski, activist of the “Student Plenum” movement, says that the ministry must review its decision and withdraw from the state exam.

“We demand the government to withdraw and not approve the changes in the law on universities, which contain the application of the state exam. This means that the government is trying to ruin the autonomy of universities and the state exam is an overload for students”, Malinovski said for IBNA. According to him, in case their demands are not taken under consideration, the protests will continue.

A part of faculty deans say that they’re ready to debate about the proposals of the government and that they do not want the application of these exams without a wide debate.

“I cannot support something which I still don’t know what it amounts to. Ministry of Education has clear policies as to what it wants about universities. The changes that have been proposed, must be discussed”, said the dean of the Faculty of Economics at the University of Skopje, Lubomir Drakulevski. According to him, there are no countries in the world that apply such a system. Supporting the students of the University of Skopje are also the students of the two Albanian universities, that of Tetovo and University of Southeast Europe in Tetovo.

According to the warnings of the Ministry of Education, external exams must be sat twice: the first time when the students have completed their second year of study and the second one on the fourth year. Those who do not pass their exams, may have their studies suspended. /ibna/