YGS is Turkey’s 3 hours, 160 questions multiple-choice Transition To Higher Education Examination. The score from this exam determines which course a high school graduate should take in college. Critics of YGS argue that the 180 minutes exam is unfair. One reason according to TED or Turkish Education Association is that YGS is trying to cover all the knowledge students acquired from his or her 12 years of education through 180 minutes multiple-choice exam. Another is the fact that instead of increasing the capacity of universities, the examination limits people from getting a college education.
Normalizing Exclusion of Students from Higher Education
There are about 2 million high school graduates took the YGS examination this year and many of these students have difficulties solving math questions, and very long reading comprehension questions. High School graduates who will be lucky enough to pass YGS can proceed to college while the unfortunate ones can only apply for associate degree programs.
Problems with the transition from secondary to higher education are not unique to Turkey. In Ireland for instance, transition exams led to the development of teaching and learning centers that many believed narrowed students focus on education towards exam preparation and exam success rather than engaging in teaching and the learning process. It promotes the type of knowledge asked in the exam. It instills negative values that getting a college education is simply a matter of answering as many questions as you can. More importantly, such exams normalized the exclusion of students from higher education.
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The Right of Secondary Education Graduates to Benefit from Higher Education
Graduates of secondary education should be allowed to pursue higher education according to their interest and ability. Historically, inequality in access to higher education is political and educational policy issue.
According to OECD or the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Matriculation Examination system, a yearly exam often administered by the Ministry or Department Education of member countries, is an impediment to economic development. The pass/fail system in particular significantly reduced the number of students who can go to college and increased the number of people without formal education. In Myanmar for example, out the 469,000 high school graduates who took the Matriculation Exam, only 35% passed the exam. By analysis, the exam forced about 300,000 teenagers to move away from the education system and find work with secondary education certificate as highest qualification.
Higher education appears to be a possibility rather than rights as the majority of secondary school graduates had difficulties in passing transition exams. Similarly, higher education is also not according to individual wishes or field of interest because exam passers’ college courses are dependent on their respective exam scores. Moreover, as transition or matriculation exam is the only route to higher education, secondary school graduates are likely to enter the informal sector or work illegally as minors in formal enterprises.
Everyone has the right to education and base on merit, higher education should be made available to everybody. In fact, international law recognized access to higher education as the universal human right but states over-emphasis on individual academic performance and aptitude exam denied many students of such right.