English bagrut exam graders go on strike

225 of 300 went on strike Tuesday to protest what they call the impossible pace at which they are required to work.

The graders of English matriculation exams went on strike Tuesday to protest what they call the impossible pace at which they are required to work. Of the approximately 300 examiners, 225 went on strike, Judy Astary, a senior examiner representing the group, told The Jerusalem Post, adding that the other 75 have just walked away from the job altogether. According to Astary, examiners must grade 19 tests per hour, or 912 a week. That works out to just over three minutes per exam. "In other subjects, even when grading the easier tests, they have to grade far fewer per hour. For example, in math, they grade 12 per hour and in Arabic a mere four per hour or 99 a week," she said. On average, it takes just under seven minutes to grade a test, but they only have three. Any additional time comes at their own expense, according to Astary. The load went up by a third three years ago because of internal Education Ministry reforms. "We decided to strike now, because after two years of grading the tests we saw we couldn't do it. We turned to the Education Ministry last summer to complain and we received a reply two days ago that the ministry did not see fit to change anything, so we have gone on strike," Astary said. The Education Ministry responded that they were currently looking into the issue. Astary said it takes between four to five weeks to grade the 290,000-400,000 tests. "[At this pace] it means stopping living while marking tests. No taking care of children or doing anything else," she declared. Astary added that there might be even more to grade this summer because many pupils did not take the test in the winter, presumably because of the high school teachers' strike. The examiners held a protest outside the Amit School in Givat Shmuel on Tuesday to mark the start of the strike. Astary said that over the winter they had gotten 200 signatures from examiners who stated they would not mark tests this summer if the pace was not reduced.