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NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Aug. 29) – Over 3,000 Class Six students may not be able to enter Tongan high schools next year because while teachers are on strike, the exam papers have not been set for the High School Entrance examination, which is due in early October.

Because of the national Civil Servants strike there has been no school for six weeks for most students at government schools, and if the strike continues for another month there will be no exams.

The future of 3,000 Tongan teenagers so far has appeared to have been given very little significance in the negotiations of the Civil Servants and government.

The Director of Education, Viliami Takau, said that the Ministry of Education was leaving things for the PTAs, "to organise special classes and to prepare students for the Entrance examination."

Viliami said that there were teachers who were not on strike and were at their schools holding normal classes for students, and some teachers who, although were on strike, were holding night classes for their students.

But Liliani Vatuvei, a Class Six teacher at the Ma’ufanga Primary School said that all striking teachers have ceased holding classes for their students.

She said that at the beginning of the strike, she and other striking teachers had held classes in the evening and at night at their homes, but they stopped having these special classes two weeks ago when the PSA informed them that Government was not accepting their request for a 60, 70 and 80 percent salary rise.

"We are doing this because we want Government to listen to us and to do something quickly because we want to go back to school," said Liliani.

Liliani said that about 60 percent of their students who sit the high school entry exam gain passes to various high schools in Tonga every year. But with regards to this year's entrance examination in October she has her doubts if there would be an examination at all, because the majority of the officers working in the examination unit are on strike, except for possibly one who is still working.

These officers believe that if the strike continues for another month there would be no exams, said Liliani.

The Government has115 Government Primary schools throughout Tonga and about 75% of students passing the entrance examination every year enter various church and government high schools.

The entrance examination is held every year and is compulsory for all class six students to sit in and pass in order to enter Form 1 in high school.

Meanwhile, many senior Form Seven students who were hoping to apply for scholarships this year have not been given the results of their mid-year exams which are critical for their scholarship applications.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

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