Some 100 teachers gathered in front of the offices of the Education Ministry in
Tel Aviv on Thursday to protest the ministry’s intention of cutting down the
number of matriculation exams, saying this step will harm certain subjects,
especially in the humanities.
“Our goal is to make sure that the status
of the humanities in Israel remains equal to the status of other school subjects
like math, English and Hebrew,” one of the leaders of the protest, Sharon Sayag,
who teaches history in a Holon high school, told The Jerusalem
“It’s been a long year that we heard [Education Minister] Shai
Piron and the head of his party [Yesh Atid], [Finance Minister] Yair Lapid,
intend to minimize exams by canceling all or some of the matriculation exams in
the humanities,” he added.
Sayag said he and a group of colleagues from
the Israeli Teacher’s Union met with the education minister several times this
year and stressed to him the harmful consequences that they believe such a
decision would bring about for their teaching subjects.
“When we hear in
interviews that he maintains his intention, we are worried,” he told the
“When a student knows he has to pass an external exam, he is more
motivated, and the exam looks more serious to him,” Sayag explained. “Let’s face
it, if a students knows that the exam is replaced with an assignment that will
be graded by the same teacher he’s had all year and that there is no objective
examiner, all the seriousness is lost. It could also lead to certain parents or
students pressuring teachers.”
Although he made clear that the protest is
not personally against the minister, Sayag said that he disagrees with his
general opinion of exams.
“Exams are great assessment tools and as
teachers we must assess our students’ skills,” he said. “If we don’t, students
could go all the way to university without having had even one external
“Even if it means a little bit of stress, students should be
trained to memorize information,” he said.
As he took office earlier this
year, Piron had clearly expressed his stance on exams and said that reducing
their number will “expand the students’ minds and truly inculcate a love for
learning and a deeper appreciation of the subjects.”
The minister vowed
that public education will soon have a different appearance, saying his motto is
“love, believe and excel.”
Back in August, Piron had already announced
the freezing of external Meitzav achievement exams, used to evaluate and compare
schools, a decision that sparked criticism from many other ministers.
cannot cover ourselves up with tests and forms that prevent us from asking
questions about the character of our education,” he said. “In a world in which
knowledge is so accessible, there is a deep change in authority. A change is
Piron had stated his intention of reducing the extent of the
mandatory matriculation exam for high school students to only four tests:
Hebrew, English, mathematics and one elective subject.
According to him,
these subjects include specific informational goals, for which teaching for the
tests is ideal. However, in other mandatory subjects, such as Bible, history and
science, teachers will be free to teach in whichever way they choose.
Education Ministry said in response to protesters that it has not reached a
final decision concerning the matriculation exams.
Stay on top of the news - get the Jerusalem Post headlines direct to your inbox!