Thousands of German students protest against the “unfair” English test

BERLIN – Complaining that your final exams are too difficult is a rite of passage, almost a tradition.

German students from the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, who met in April to take the Abitur exams, have taken another step towards protesting against the part of the test in English. with a dark picture. and outdated references.

Nearly 36,000 people, more than 2,000 more than the number of undergraduate students named as A-levels, have signed an online petition for civil servants to adjust the rating system, taking into account their “unfair” issues Results were published.

The test required that students understand current issues such as the upcoming withdrawal from the European Union or British Brexit and comment on two contrasting cartoons entitled “Fantasy Project” and “The Realities”.

A target of his objections was a reading section that used the text of “Call It Sleep,” a novel critically acclaimed in 1934 by the American writer Henry Roth, interspersed with archaic vocabulary by the students. His request emphasized this passage as difficult to understand:

"Against the radiant sky, the rays of his halo were summits of darkness that moved the air, the shadow shattering the torch that led to a black cross against a perfect light: the blackened grip of a broken sword - freedom."

These words are not lyrics from a heavy metal band like Black Sabbath, but a reference to the Statue of Liberty.

The Abitur examinations were prepared from a national question group and distributed by the Ministry of Education in Baden-Württemberg. The exam is the equivalent of Germany at level A of the United Kingdom or the Abitur de France, the last obstacle for high school graduates, a series of written and oral exams worth about one-third of their studies. School graduation.

The resulting qualifications are used for a system known as “Numerus Clausus”, which regulates admission to popular university programs. Those who want to study a high-demand topic, such as medicines, but not the required minimum scores, must wait up to seven years to get a place.

“The qualification of a baccalaureate is the most important selection factor for access to college,” said Rainer Bölling, a training expert who wrote a book on the history of the baccalaureate.

Mr Bölling said that the test, which occupies an important place in German culture, becomes easier as a larger proportion of young people try to attend university. In 1960, 7 percent of school leavers took the test; in 2000, it was 37.2 percent; In 2015, according to official figures, it was 53 percent.

Due to the importance of the baccalaureate for the students’ future careers, however, the protest and the request were characterized by panic and frustration.

The 991-word petition, divided into four items, was submitted by the participants as an open letter to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports in Baden-Württemberg. But many others have signed it out of solidarity. A commentator, A.K. Mohan said, “I’m signing because I’m going to graduate soon.”

A panel of independent experts commissioned by the state to assess the test after the petition met with reasonable difficulties and warned students to wait until they could see their grades published on June 18th.

“There is nothing to worry about,” said Susanne Eisenmann, Minister of State for Secondary Education, in a statement. “I recommend calm and serenity.”

Bernd Saur, one of the region’s leading linguists, also received a student council, according to the BBC: “I urge students to wait for their results, nobody is hit.”

More recently, Germans have introduced online petitions to express anger and force officials to justify apparent routine practices.

The city of Hannover was in crisis last month when nearly 300,000 people signed an online petition to rescue a dog that killed two people. The petitioners accused the dog’s environment, not the animal itself, of death. The city gave up the dog but was partially subjected to protests and media examinations because of the petition.

Last year, a dispute over another English test in North Rhine-Westphalia led to an online petition for a review. The students complained that the test contained a poor reception of a “fake” speech by Prince Harry, the BBC said.

Other students who graduated from high school this year obviously did not have the same problems as in Baden-Württemberg. Students in northeastern Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania were evaluated in similar places, but apparently did not complain publicly.

Recently, however, the part of the matriculation test of the Abitur had to be exchanged in the northwestern federal state of Lower Saxony, and in some places he was delayed. The thieves had broken into the school safe where they could have had access to the exam.