Pupils stage rebellion over exam lottery

30th May 1997 at 01:00
ISRAEL. Student boycott forces minister to backtrack on random system of subject selection. Sue Surkes reports Pupil power has forced Israeli education minister Zevulun Hammer to reverse his decision to cancel the "Bagrut bingo", a random, computerised method of choosing which subjects will be set for examination.

The controversial method which allows three out of the seven compulsory subjects to be dropped for examination, was introduced by Hammer's predecessor to relieve the pressure on students, prior to the eventual implementation of Bagrut (matriculation) reforms.

Hammer, who leads the National Religious party, announced at the last minute he was cancelling the computer in favour of a committee of education ministry officials. The three committee members opted to drop history, Hebrew and English.

Senior sixth-formers, enraged at the eleventh-hour change, staged a school boycott the following day. The National Student and Youth Council threatened to take the matter to the High Court. Hammer backed down and gave the go-ahead for the return of the computerised lottery, which came up with, coincidentally, history, Hebrew and civics.

Hammer said he had proposed his change to prevent the same subject being dropped year after year.

One English teacher told The TES the ministry's indecision was cruel.

"On Thursday pupils phoned me to say thank you and goodbye. On Sunday they phoned to moan that they would have to sit English after all. They are under enough pressure, and don't need this added confusion."

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