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Secondary school students worry about exams as massive protest unfolds

Upper secondary school students finishing up a week of exams say a major strike planned for Friday could cause many scholars to miss crucial tests.

Koe Oulunkylän yhteiskoulun lukiossa keväällä 2016.
Image: Tapio Rissanen / Yle

The majority of Finland’s upper secondary school students will have exams on Friday, as part of their ongoing "test week". Many of them who rely on public transportation for the school commute may not be able to get to school because of a massive strike that will bring public transportation to a standstill.

The Union of Upper Secondary School Students SLL, is calling for schools to offer flexibility because of the protest action.

"Not all students necessarily have the option of finding other ways to get to school," noted SLL chair Alvar Euro. In Finland, upper secondary school students sit exams at the end of a six-week study period. *Failure to complete the exam will result in no grade for the subject in question.

SAK called the strike over government plans to get unemployed people into work by prompting jobseekers to do odd paid jobs totalling at least 18 hours over three months, or enroll in one of the few job-related training courses available, and to penalise those who do not.

The association said under the circumstances, it hopes that some students will be allowed to sit their exams at a later date without facing a penalty for absenteeism.

According to Euro, schools should avoid scheduling substitute tests for students who’ve missed exams on the same day as re-take tests for students who are trying for a better grade. Missed exams and re-sits to improve grades usually take place on separate days.

"So that students also have the possibility to take other tests the same day," he added.

"Students shouldn’t suffer" during protests

Educators in school districts in Pori and Rauma in southwest Finland say they are willing to be flexible in light of the special circumstances.

"Demonstrations and strikes should not harm students," said Esa Kohtamäki, head of the Pori education centre.

Upper secondary schools in Pori and Rauma have said however, that very few students have indicated that they will not be able to make it to school for their exams on Friday.

"Many of them will come with their parents or have organised a car pool," said principal of Pori’s Finnish lyceum Mari Aalto.

She said that students who may have missed tests will be able to take them on re-sit days.

"If need be we can agree on a substitute test at a different time. So, absences due to the protest will not affect [students’] performance reports," she concluded.

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