Cyprus Primary Education - Educational policies are formulated by the Ministry of Education and Culture and approved by the Council of Ministers.
Education is provided through pre-primary and primary schooling, secondary general and secondary technical/vocational schools, special schools, third level institutions and non-formal institutions and centers.
Pre Primary Education - The educational programme of Nursery Schools (kindergartens) retains as many elements of the natural way of living of the family as possible, with emphasis on the free activation of the children, on comfort, on love, on support, on trust, on acceptance, on safety and on respect for their personal uniqueness.
The fundamental objective of the Ministry of Education and Culture is the implementation of compulsory Pre-Primary Education for the children of age 4 8/12-5 8/12 years, from September 2004.
During the school year 2003-2004, the public kindergarten class-units were 416, while the community class-units were 90.
Primary Education - According to the Primary Education educational programme, the aim is to create and secure the necessary learning opportunities for children regardless of age, sex, family and social background and mental abilities so that they will be able to:
- Be harmoniously developed in the cognitive, emotional and psychomotor domains using the means that contemporary technology offers to the maximum.
- Deal successfully with various problems they may face including difficulties in familiarizing with the school and the wider environment.
- Promote socialization, establish their national and ethnic identity and their status as citizens of the Republic of Cyprus who struggle for their national demand of right through legal and generally accepted procedures.
- Acquire positive attitudes towards learning, develop social understanding, combativeness and belief in human values, respect cultural heritage and human rights, appreciate beauty and have a disposition for creativity and love for life and nature in order to become sensitive in preserving and improving the environment.
Primary Education is both free and compulsory. The government pays the salaries of the teachers and hands out annual grants to all local authorities according to the number of pupils in their area. Schools function in every town and village where more than 15 children live. Regional schools serve neighboring communities with less than 15 pupils. Most of the big primary schools in urban areas and in big rural communities are divided into two cycles: cycle A catering for 1st to 3rd grades and cycle B comprising of 4th to 6th grades. The pupil/teacher ratio at national level is 15.2:1 while teachers are allocated in such a way that the biggest class size does not exceed 32 pupils for the 4th to the 6th grades and 30 for the 1st to the 3rd grades.
Schools in the Occupied Area of Cyprus - Despite the fact that the occupation authorities had imposed a series of obstacles and censorship on educational books, three primary schools functioned initially, one in Kormakitis, one in Ayia Triada and one in Rizokarpasso. However, presently, only the school of Rizokarpasso functions, with eight pupils and two teachers.
Until recently, the occupation authorities did not allow the functioning of secondary education schools, therefore, children who graduated from primary schools were compelled to leave their homes and separate from their families to seek further education in the free areas of Cyprus. However, the occupation authorities have recently consented to the opening of a gymnasio in Rizokarpasso.
Education for Children with Special Needs - The State's obligation to provide education and training for children with special needs commences at the age of three years and continues until the completion of the education and training process. This will normally terminate at age 18, unless they attend higher education, though persons attending special schools can have extensions up to the age of 21, where this is deemed educationally appropriate.
Education for the Greeks of Diaspora - In its effort to offer educational help to the Greeks in other countries, the Ministry of Education and Culture:
- Continues the teaching of the Greek language to children and teachers of the Greek Orthodox schools in Jerusalem.
- Provides books and other educational material to all Greek schools and other Greek organizations in other countries.
- Offers hospitality to children from Greek communities and provides programmes related to the Greek language and culture.
- Offers educational help to the repatriated Cypriots, through the school system and the Adult Education Centers.
Innovations in Primary Education
All-Day School - The All-Day Schools operate on a voluntary basis for the 4th, 5th and 6th grades. They function from October to May and for three additional periods four times a week (until 4:00 pm). The afternoon programme includes four teaching periods per week for carrying out assigned homework, four teaching periods for reinforcing teaching and four teaching periods for two of the following optional subjects: Foreign Languages, Information Technology, Music, Physical Education, Art, Design and Technology etc.
The All-Day School concept was experimentally implemented during the academic year 1999-2000 in nine primary schools. Based on the report of the Special Evaluation Committee, the All-Day School institution was considered to be successful and useful socially and educationally.
During the academic year 2003-2004 the number of All-Day Schools further increased to 110 schools for the 4th-6th grades.
Information Technology - Since September 1993, the Department of Primary Education is implementing a pilot programme in using Information Technology and modern technologies. Information Technology is not used as a separate subject through the programme, but as a dynamic tool in the teaching and learning process aiming at a more effective implementation of the school curriculum and promotion of basic skills of information gathering, back up, presentation and processing information.
The basic aims are:
- development of appropriate and modern building structure and efficient technical support
- re-construction of the school curriculum in order to include the use of Information Technology
- in-service education of teachers in using Information Technology in the classroom
- access of schools to the World Wide Web.
During the academic year 2003 - 2004 the programme has been implemented in all the schools in Cyprus including the occupied school in Rizokarpasso. Based on this, a set of one computer and one printer has been installed in every classroom of all the schools. Every computer in each school has access to the Internet. This new tool proved to be very motivating for pupils. Many children develop communication with children in other schools as well as Cypriots who live abroad and foreigners. In this way, two of the main educational aims are achieved at a high degree: the promotion of communication skills and the acknowledgement of other countries' ethics in the context of multi-cultural education.
Multicultural Education - About 5,5% of the pupils attending public primary schools in Cyprus do not speak Greek as their mother language. The Ministry of Education and Culture is promoting the implementation of educational measures and policies that will facilitate the smooth integration of groups from different cultural identities in a creative environment, regardless of background. The Department of Primary Education makes provisions so that bilingual pupils are distributed evenly in the various districts, schools and even classrooms, so that teachers can support their linguistic and cultural needs more effectively.
Educational Programmes - During the past few years, the Department of Primary Education has promoted and implemented a number of innovations, aiming at a qualitative upgrade of education. Among these innovations is the application of the following educational programmes:
Museum Educational Programmes: They aim at the acquisition of experiences in museums and the development of positive attitudes towards the environment and the cultural heritage of Cyprus.
- Mentor: The Drug Prevention Programmes of the MENTOR Mobile Units are being implemented with six different programmes, one for each grade. The programmes are being implemented within the framework of health education. The activities of the programmes are divided into three main categories: activities that provide children with knowledge of human biological functions, activities that aim at enhancing positive self-esteem and activities that help children acquire resistance skills to social pressures and develop their decision-making abilities.
- European Network of Health Promoting Schools: The European Network of Health Promoting Schools was established through the cooperation of the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the World Health Organization Regional Office in 1992. Cyprus is a member since 1995 and all levels of education participate.
- 'Cyprus-Aegean, Myth-History-Art': This educational programme aims to give opportunities to pupils to discover through a 'journey of knowledge, game, search, daydream, sentimental emotions and surprises', the wealth of History, Art, Culture of Cyprus and the Aegean sea and to develop cultural consciousness. It is a cultural programme that is organized by the Youth Board of Cyprus, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Culture and the General Secretariat of New Generation of Greece. It is addressed to primary school children of the 3rd - 6th grades and each time nearly 60 pupils can take part.
- Educational Programme 'IKADE': The educational programme 'IKADE' aims at developing the spiritual and cultural bonds among pupils attending schools in Greece, Cyprus and young Greek migrants attending schools elsewhere in the world. It is a vision that concentrates on supporting the migrant Greeks in the countries they live and prosper, contributing towards maintaining a bridge of communication among the migrants, Cyprus and Greece. 'IKADE' operates in two levels: the level of the Internet, where a Greek planet is created, which everyone, wherever he/she lives, can visit or navigate, and the level of teleconferences carried out between young Greeks attending Greek speaking colony schools everywhere in the world and their classmates from Cyprus and Greece. The programme is supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture and exclusively sponsored by the Bank of Cyprus.
- Programme 'ODYSSEUS': The programme is considered as the functional extension of the programme 'IKADE'. It is a research educational programme that implements open and distant education. The programme is supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Computer Department of the University of Cyprus and the Bank of Cyprus.
- Aesthetic Education: Aesthetic Education constitutes an objective under emphasis during the last years for all levels of education. For the qualitative upgrade of Art special emphasis is given to the international trends, such as the multicultural and the museum perspective, the aesthetic appreciation of Arts, the use of multimedia in the teaching of Art and the exploratory method.
Source: Press And Information Office, Republic Of Cyprus, 2005