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Students Demand from Government to Revoke Plans to Introduce External Testing for the Universities

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Several thousands of university students joined the protest march through the streets of Skopje held last Monday, November 11, 2014, and demanded from the Ministry of Education to cancel the idea to introduce external testing at the universities.

Thousands of students protested plans to introduce external testing for university students (Photo Vančo Džambaski)Thousands of students protested plans to introduce external testing for university students (Photo Vančo Džambaski)

In an open letter to the Minister of Education Abdulakim Ademi, the students gathered in the initiative Studentski Plenum say that the proposed external testing in the form of a state exam after the completion of second and fourth year of study is problematic and unconstitutional on several grounds, including a restriction of the constitutional right to education.

“The state exam and the provision that the students that fail it twice will lose their right to continue with the studies denies the students their constitutionally guaranteed right to education”, Studentski Plenum says in the letter to Ademi.

The students add that the proposed measure violates the automomy of the university guaranteed by Article 46 of the Constitution, and is opposed to the Bologna model of studying.

The students also believe that no arguments have been offered to the public to justify the proposed reform and convince them that it would bring some benefits to the table. On the other hand, the students have presented arguments that note the negative consequences of the external testing, if implemented.

“We believe that the public debate has taken the wrong track with the insistence to discuss the possible forms it could take. It is the very need for its implementation that we find questionable. The debate as it is now needs to stop immediately and the proposed measure should be revoked”, the students say in their demands to Ademi.

The Studentski Plenum initiative was create as a reaction to the incompetence of the Student Parliaments to protect the students interests and articulate their views on the proposed reforms. At the beginning of the protest march, the students held a symbolic “burial” of the Student Parliament because of its refusal to take the responsibility as the legitimate representative body of the students.

Students protested in front of the Ministry of Education (Photo RadioMOF)Students protested in front of the Ministry of Education (Photo RadioMOF)

The protest received support from several organisations and initiatives.

“The students gathered in the Studentski Plenum initiative have the legitimate right to defend the universities from the unconstitutional and illegal intrusion in their guaranteed autonomy with the newly announced reforms that include external testing second and fourth year students. We believe that the proposed reforms also concern their professors and we encourage the socially active intellectuals to take a more courageous stand in the opposition of such negative trends in higher education”, says the statement of support of the Movement for Social Justice “Lenka“.

The protest was peaceful, without incidents, with large police presence.

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