Armenian schools debate religious questions

Armenian schools debate religious questions

There is a debate that is particularly important for Armenian schools as it regards “difficult” questions on religion in the High School Entrance Exam (LGS) that was held last month. Parents of Armenian students at the Karagözyan School and the school’s founder have claimed students suffered because the questions on Christianity had been very difficult. The head of the commission, however, has argued that on the contrary, there were students who answered all questions correctly.

Karun Kovan, the founder of Karagözyan School, and a group of parents have underlined the fact that there were 199 students from Armenian schools that took the high school entrance exam.

“While religious questions on Islam were easy and many students could answer these questions with ease, the questions on Christianity were very difficult. This became a disadvantage for our students who are competing with other students. The Education Ministry has no fault because these questions are prepared by our religious officials and handed over to the ministry. Our questions were hard and open to interpretation,” they said.

Kovan claimed some students received 15 to 20 points less because of the difficult questions.

‘It is not hard for those who study’

A leading Armenian cleric, Tatul Anuşyan, who is the head of the commission responsible for the questions, said they had been prepared together with a group of teachers in Istanbul and given to the ministry.

“These claims are untrue. Their objections have also been conveyed to the ministry. Religion classes have little weight [on the final score], mathematics is the most difficult,” said Anuşyan.

“If one studies, no question appears complicated or hard. We have seven or eight children at our other schools who found the right answers to all 10 questions and many had only one wrong answer. In addition, our questions pertain to moral issues, just like the questions on Islam. Aside from one or two questions, a non-Christian could also find the right answers. A handful of parents are overexaggerating,” he said.

Let’s see which side will prevail on this debate, the parents or the clerics? How will the ministry react to the objections?

Questions on religion and morality had been asked separately to members of each religion in the past. The (non-Muslim) students that took the LGS exam, who were a minority in number, would respond to questions on their own religion. Ten “religion and morality knowledge” questions on the exam would be prepared by religious clerics from the Jewish and Armenian community and sent to the Education Ministry. This way, students who were minorities would be able to answer questions about their religions.

Starting with easier questions

This year was a difficult year for those taking the exam. First, they were told there would not be an exam and then they found out there would be an exam, which would be conducted differently. There have been many changes and there has been a lot of confusion, which has complicated the preparation period.

Students had a hard time, as they faced new types of questions. Some left in the middle of the exam, others came out crying. The children are sad and their parents angry.

Professor Selahattin Gelbal, underlined the fact that the test started with difficult questions.

“Even a very good student can become demoralized by looking at the first questions. But the most important rule of a good test is that it should start with easy questions. They will do better once they see they can solve the questions. It is better to have hard questions at the later stage of the test,” he said.

Nuran Çakmakçı, Turkish universities,