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In the 2020/2021 school year, 118 high school students in North Macedonia were retained, but during the 2021/2022 school year the number of the grade repeaters rose to 261. Why do these students fail and what this rise in grade retention can be attributed to? Are the professors too stern when giving the marks or the pupils are not eagerto learn and get better marks that will allow them to go on to the next grade? We searched for answers talking to directors and professors from secondary schools in North Macedonia.

Dimitar Gjorgjiev, the Director of Mihajlo Pupin technical high school in the capital Skopje says that a high school student will be retained in grade with three failling marks and with just two failing marks has to take end-of-year reassessment exams.

Aleksandar Sibinovski, a director of the Vlado Tasevski technical high school in Skopje, informs that at this school there are 14 pupils that will be retained in grade.

Elizabeta Sekirarska, a professor at the Pero Nakov gymnasium in Kumanovo is surprised by the high number of pupils that will be retained, taking into account the bad treatment of the teachers in their role as assessors.

“We all know that the end of the school year is reserved for all forms of interventions and pressure to improve the grades. I want to stress that as a  person I’m always on the pupils’ side and I prefer to justify rather than condemn, but the fact remains that the school for a long time hasn’t been a place where the motivated children live and are ready to learn and understand, both about themselves and their lives and what the future,” Sekirarska says.

She says that the number of the high school students that will be retained in the grade isn’t small because no one has tried to intervene and help them, even though they may have just one or two failling marks, unlike those that have even up to nine failling marksFs, but are passing through as they “are be ‘someone’s’ kids.”

“I consider this syndrome of inequality to be one of the reasons why the studentss understand that nothing is important and nothing is a must,” concludes the professor.

From the numbers published by the State Statistical Office it is evident that this year, the number of pupils that will be retained in grade is the highest, even though from year to year the total number of such pupils is dropping. During the 2017/2018 school year there were 187 retained students, while in 2018/2019 – 194, and in 2019/2020, there were 260 repeaters.

2017/2018 – 192.448 pupils, 187 repeaters

2018/2019 – 188.102 pupils, 194 repeaters

2019/2020 – 187.240 pupils, 260 repeaters

2020/2021 – 187.555 pupils, 118 repeaters

2021/2022 – 186.649 pupils, 261 repeaters

Source: The State Statistical Office of North Macedonia