Like pretty much everyone else in the world, I hated exams. The days of cramming, the sleepless nights, the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I saw a question derived from a footnote on some forgotten page of some book I hadn’t had time to read.

In fact, although, I haven’t sat for an exam for a few years now, every June, without fail, I will wake up in a cold sweat at some point or another worried that I have forgotten to study something. Has it killed me yet? No. Am I stronger for it? Hell, yes.

Of course, teaching and exams require teachers and unfortunately, given how unfairly underrated this particular profession is, their numbers are fast dwindling. Why teach a generation of children to read and write when you can be a fourth class lawyer, right?

However, instead of the Malta Union of Teachers taking a step back and looking closely at why people are opting out of one of the most rewarding, yet challenging, professions on the planet, they decided to enrage everyone and suspend the Maths and Maltese exams to protest the workload that teachers of these particular subjects have due to a shortage of, yes, teachers.

What we need is a rethink of the way we view teachers and more fruitful initiatives to encourage people to sign up instead of shooting ourselves in the foot

I don’t know about you, but somehow I get the feeling that holding children’s future’s ransom doesn’t really seem to be the best way to tackle this particular conundrum.

Generally speaking, the Maltese public at large tends to be allergic to exams. The common entrance exam was abolished almost a decade ago with parents citing stress and pressure as reasons why it had to go and a year ago, the mid-yearly faced an unceremonious chop too for the same reasons.

I’m not sure why many parents seem hell bent on raising snowflakes incapable of dealing with whatever life throws at them, but they certainly aren’t doing the job sector any favours, with some parents even insisting on accompanying their children to job interviews.

However, when even our very own MUT is suggesting that children go without their Maths and Maltese yearly exams (two subjects which are not only vital, but which many students struggle with), you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s something in the water.

When actions like this are taken, they do not only weaken the profession as a whole but they also send out the wrong message, implying that teachers and their union do not care about their students.

What we need is a rethink of the way we view teachers and more fruitful initiatives to encourage people to sign up instead of shooting ourselves in the foot: examinations should never be held as bargaining chips to be sacrificed at the altar of pride and industrial action, especially in a scenario where we statistically have the highest number of early school leavers in Europe. I suppose, at least we are the best at something.

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