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I am an Italian secondary school teacher, on a sabbatical year, visiting Ireland. I daily read your newspapers, attend your courts, and speak with Irish people. I envy your system of final examinations in your junior and secondary schools.
The ministerial proposals to remove State exams at your junior schools will have the same dangerous, and ruinous, consequences as in our Italian schools. The move to school-based assessment, with teachers marking students’ work, has strained relations between students, parents and teachers. Unfair, unlawful pressure from parents was put on the teachers to give higher marks to children. The reliability of the once valuable state exam was lost. Many teachers in Italy are stressed and burned-out due to menaces, requests of favouritism, ‘mafioso’ behaviour and, sometimes, the false allegations of parents and students against teachers, who have to defend themselves in civil and criminal courts.
What was a paradise and a shelter for education and culture is converted into a hell. School has become ‘a points race’ for entry to our universities. The so-called ‘numerus clausus’ is a poison for our quality of education and a danger to democracy. Please, you Irish, don’t follow our path in education. Many roads lead to Rome, but some are dangerous and frightening.
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