The Republic of Cyprus has a presidential system of government with a clear division of authority between the executive, the legislative and the judiciary bodies. Information on the role and responsibility of the main executive and legislative bodies and on the Ministries and other bodies involved in education is provided below.
Executive authority is exercised by the President of the Republic of Cyprus, who is elected for a term of five years by universal suffrage by citizens over the age of eighteen. The President is both Chief of State and Head of Government. The President exercises executive authority through an eleven member Council of Ministers (Υπουργικό Συμβούλιο) appointed by him. The Council of Ministers is responsible for the governance of the Republic, coordinates and supervises the public services, supervises and allocates the fortune of the Republic and processes the budget and bills before they are presented to the House of Representatives. The President has the right of final veto on decisions of the Council of Ministers and laws or decisions of the House of Representatives concerning foreign affairs, defence or security. The Ministers exercise executive authority within the domain of their ministry. See more on Presidency.
Legislative authority is exercised by the House of Representatives (Βουλή των Αντιπροσώπων). Its members are elected for a five-year term by universal suffrage by citizens over the age of eighteen. At the time of its establishment the House consisted of 50 members, 70% of whom were to be Greek Cypriots and 30% to be Turkish Cypriots. Through a constitutional amendment passed in 1985 the total number of seats was increased to 80, 56 for Greek Cypriots and 24 for Turkish Cypriots. Following the withdrawal of the Turkish side from government in 1964, the House has been functioning only with its Greek Cypriot members. The current House was elected on 22 May 2011.
The Maronite, Armenian and Latin religious groups vote as part of the Greek Cypriot community, however, they elect one additional representative of each group. These three representatives attend meetings but do not participate in the deliberations. They are consulted on matters concerning particular affairs of their respective religious group.
The electoral system is one of proportional representation and the number of seats in each constituency is determined by law. The constituencies coincide with the administrative districts.
The office of a deputy is incompatible with that of a Minister, Mayor, member of a municipal council or the armed or security forces, or with any other public or municipal position.
The meetings of the House are open to the public.
The President of the Republic is invested in office by the House of Representatives.
Cyprus is divided into six administrative districts – Lefkosia, Lemesos, Pafos, Larnaka, Ammochostos and Keryneia. Each district has a District Officer (Έπαρχος) who is the local representative of the government. The District Officer coordinates the activities of all of the Ministries in his/her district and reports to the Ministry of the Interior. There are two types of local authorities: Municipalities (Δήμοι), which constitute local government for urban areas, and Communities (Κοινότητες) for rural areas. The Municipal Council (Δημοτικό Συμβούλιο) is the policy-making body of the Municipality and its members are elected by the citizens for a term of five years. The Mayor (Δήμαρχος) presides over the Municipal Council. The last Municipality Elections took place on 18 December 2011.
Ministries and other bodies involved in education
The Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Education and Culture have a key role in education, while a number of other bodies are also involved.
Council of ministers
The Council of Ministers is the highest authority for educational policy making, whilst overall responsibility for education rests with the Ministry of Education and Culture (with the exception of a small number of higher education institutions which come under other ministries).
Ministry of Education and Culture
The Ministry of Education and Culture is responsible for the administration of education, the enforcement of educational laws and the implementation of educational policy, the preparation of the education budget and educational bills and the construction of school buildings. It is also responsible for formulating and implementing the cultural policy of the Government. The Ministry of Education (to become in 1994 Ministry of Education and Culture) was established by Law Ν.12/1965 under which the Greek Cypriot Communal Chamber was abolished, transferring its executive authority to the Ministry of Education and its legislative authority to the House of Representatives. In 2019, Law 94(I) 2019 was voted for the renaming of the Ministry of Education and Culture into Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth (MECSY).
Although the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth has primary responsibility for education, a number of higher education institutions fall under the responsibility of other ministries, as follows: the Mediterranean Institute of Management and the Higher Hotel Institute (Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance); the Tourist Guides School (Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism); the Cyprus Forestry College (Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment); the Cyprus Police Academy (Ministry of Law and Public Order); the Cyprus Academy of Public Administration (Ministry of Finance).
The Pedagogical Council (Συμβούλιο Παιδείας) is also involved in education as a consultative body to the Minister of Education and Culture. Its objective is to initiate dialogue and gain a consensus of opinion on the restructuring of the whole education system in Cyprus. It is made up of representatives from all of the parliamentary parties, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Permanent Secretary of the Directorate General for European Programmes Coordination and Development (as the Planning Bureau has been renamed as from November 1st 2013), the Chairman of the Educational Committee of the House of Representatives, as well as other interested bodies. It is presided over by the Minister of Education and Culture.
Four independent bodies or offices, which do not come under any ministry, are also involved in educational issues. These are the Education Service Commission, the Public Service Commission, the Planning Bureau and the Attorney General’s Office:
• The Education Service Commission (Επιτροπή Εκπαιδευτικής Υπηρεσίας) is an independent office, which does not come under the Ministry of Education and Culture. It has a Chairman and four other members appointed by the Council of Ministers for a six-year term. It covers educationalists at all levels serving in public schools and institutions and it has the power to appoint, confirm, place in permanent posts, promote, transfer, second, retire and exercise disciplinary control over those under its remit, including dismissal.
• The Public Service Commission (Επιτροπή Δημόσιας Υπηρεσίας) is an independent body appointed by the President of the Republic for a six-year term. It consists of a Chairman and four members and has the duty to appoint, promote, transfer, second, retire and exercise discipline over public servants, including dismissal. The Public Service Commission appoints the Permanent Secretary and the Directors of the Departments of the Ministry of Education.
• The Directorate General for European Programmes, Coordination and Development (Γενική Διεύθυνση ΕυρωπαΪκών Προγραμμάτων, Συντονισμού και Ανάπτυξης) has a key role in issues of planning, development and budget for education.
• The Office of the Attorney General (Γραφείο Γενικού Εισαγγελέα) acts as the legal adviser to the Ministry of Education and Culture and cooperates closely with the Ministry in drafting education bills to be submitted to the House of Representatives.
Local school boards
Local School Boards (Σχολικές Εφορείες) are responsible for the schools in their given area (which are the same as those of the Local Authorities). The School Boards are responsible for the maintenance and improvement of school buildings; securing, managing and maintaining school equipment; submitting suggestions to the Ministry of Education and Culture regarding the allocation of pupils to primary or secondary schools; and, ensuring pupils’ welfare and safety in cooperation with the parents’ associations. The School Boards submit their budget for the next school year both to the Ministry of Education and Culture and to the Ministry of Finance for approval. At the end of each school year, the Boards submit a detailed financial statement, which is audited by the State Auditors. Law N.108(I)/1997 and its amendments provide for the establishment and operation of School Boards and the election of their members.
The Human Resource Development Authority (HRDA) (Αρχή Ανάπτυξης Ανθρώπινου Δυναμικού) is a semi-government organisation with a role in continuing education. Its mission is to create the necessary prerequisites for the systematic training and development of the human resources of Cyprus. It was founded (as the Industrial Training Authority of Cyprus) in 1979 and has a Board of Governors comprising thirteen representatives from government, employers and trades unions. The HRDA receives its funding via the Human Resource Development Levy, which is paid by all employers in the private and semi-government sector.