Programs submitted by the Cyprus government through the National Plan for Recovery and Sustainability, have been approved, signaling the design of Cyprus of Tomorrow. For the period of 2021-2026, funds of 1.23 billion (€1.23 bn) will be utilized for the National Plan on Cyprus Recovery and Durability. An integral part of Tomorrow's Cyprus is Tomorrow's Education when Cyprus will be free of the pandemic. An effort has already started for the systematic utilization of digital technology and electronic media in schools, and bioclimatic upgrade for "green" schools. Participation in the National Plan for Recovery and Sustainability with almost 100 million euro (€100 m) will allow the country to accelerate this major reform, which already is in progress and which will transform Cyprus schools in the coming years. Among the reforms and investments included in the Plan of Tomorrow, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth (YPPAN) has planned for four reforms and three investment actions amounting to 96.9 million euro (€96.9 m).
Operation of schools for 2020-2021 academic year
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth (YPPAN) clarifies that the instructions given through the Circular of Primary Education for the operation of schools in the new school year, do not differ from the instructions in force at the Ministry of Education, with the only substantial differentiation for 2020-21, the health protocol for Covid-19 for the operation of schools. The regulations and the procedure for admission to schools are the ones that have always been in force.
Day nurseries (παιδοβρεφοκομικοί σταθμοί) are open to children under the age of three (or up to the age of 6 in the case that they are integrated with a kindergarten). The aim of day nurseries is to offer child care rather than education. For this reason they fall under the remit of the Ministry of Labour and Social Assurance. Parents of children in day nurseries pay fees.
Pre-primary education (προδημοτική εκπαίδευση) is open to children between 3 to 6 years old. It is free and compulsory for all children in the age range from 4 years and 8 months to 6 years, while children between 3 to 4 years and 8 months are accepted but not free of charge. The aim of pre-primary education is to satisfy the children’s needs for the development of a wholesome personality in an experiential environment.
There are three types of pre-primary institutions - public kindergartens, community kindergartens, and private kindergartens. The educational program in the public and community kindergartens retains as many elements of normal family life as possible, with an emphasis on comfort, love, trust, acceptance, safety, respect and the child’s individual personality.
Primary education is free and compulsory for all children over the age of 6 and lasts for six years. At the end of this period, they receive a school-leaving certificate, which entitles them to enter secondary education. The aim of primary education is to create and secure learning opportunities for children, regardless of age, gender, family, social background and academic ability. A strong emphasis is placed on skills in languages and mathematics, as well as health and environmental education and creative and artistic expression. Recent innovations include the increased use of modern technology, the expansion of all-day schools (ολοήμερα σχολεία) and the move towards integrating pupils with special educational needs into the mainstream.
There are both public and private primary schools. Public schools operate in every town and village where more than fifteen children live. Areas with fewer than fifteen children are served by regional schools. Most of the large primary schools in urban and larger rural areas are divided into two cycles, cycle A catering for grades 1-3 and cycle B catering for grades 4-6. Because of the hardships faced by primary schools in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, only one primary school is operating in this area, located in Rizokarpaso. Since 2005, a kindergarten is also operating in one of the classrooms of the Rizokarpaso primary school.
Secondary education is offered to children between 12 and 18 years old. It is free for all the six years of duration and compulsory up to the age of 15. There is secondary general and secondary technical and vocational education in Cyprus. Secondary general education offers two three-year cycles of education – the Gymnasium (Γυμνάσιο), which constitutes the lower secondary education cycle, and the Lyceum (Λύκειο), which constitutes the upper secondary general education. The technical and vocational education offers a three-year cycle of upper secondary education. There are both public and private schools of secondary education.
The Gymnasium is a self-contained unit of general education, which complements the general education offered by primary schools and prepares pupils for upper secondary education. The curriculum is common for all pupils.
The Lyceum offers a three-year education program which includes both common core subjects and optional subjects of specialization and enrichment.
Instead of the Lyceum, pupils may choose to attend Secondary Technical and Vocational Education (STVE). STVE is offered in the Technical/Vocational Schools. The STVE programs include formal technical and vocational education, apprenticeship scheme and lifelong learning. Formal education is offered in two main streams, the ‘theoretical’ and the ‘practical’ with various specialties in each stream. The STVE school-leaving certificate is equivalent to that of the Lyceum and school leavers from technical schools can compete for places in higher education with graduates from the lyceums.
Post-secondary non-tertiary education
As of September 2012, the first post-secondary non-tertiary education institutions have started operating, on a three-year pilot basis, in Cyprus. The Post-Secondary Institutes of Vocational Education and Training (Metalykeiaka Instituta Epaggelmatikis Ekpaidefsis kai Katartisis - MIEEK) operate as public schools open to graduates of secondary education. Admission is based on certain criteria.
The MIEEK aim to offer modern and flexible programs of study that will satisfy the needs of secondary education graduates for further vocational education and training. Eight programs of study are offered for the academic year 2012-2013, all of which provide for technological and laboratory lessons as well as for practical experience in industry or enterprises. Duration of studies will be two academic years.
Higher education is offered both in public and private institutions, at university and non-university level. At the university level there are three public and five private universities in operation, while at the non-university level there are five public and twenty-five private institutions.
The universities are dedicated to the promotion of scholarship and education through teaching and research, as well as the enhancement of social, cultural and economic development of Cyprus. The three state universities are the University of Cyprus (Πανεπιστήμιο Κύπρου), the Cyprus University of Technology (Τεχνολογικό Πανεπιστήμιο Κύπρου) and the Open University of Cyprus (Ανοικτό Πανεπιστήμιο Κύπρου). All the three universities offer programs at the Bachelor, Master and Ph.D. level.
The private universities are the European University-Cyprus; the University of Nicosia; the Frederick University-Cyprus; The Neapolis University-Pafos; and, the UCLan-Cyprus.
Non-university level public institutions of higher education operate under the control of other ministries and they offer vocational programs of study relevant to the needs of each respective ministry. Their programs are of one to three years duration. The following five public institutions operate in Cyprus:
- the Cyprus Forestry College (under the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment);
- the Higher Hotel Institute of Cyprus (under the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance);
- the Mediterranean Institute of Management (under the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance);
- the Cyprus Police Academy (under the Ministry of Justice and Public Order); and,
- the School for Tourist Guides.
For a catalogue of the private schools of higher education, see here.
Adult education is offered at public, semi-government and private institutions which, according to the type of education or training they offer, maybe grouped in three categories, namely: institutions offering formal adult education; institutions offering non-formal adult education; and, institutions offering vocational training. Some courses are offered free of charge, but most of the courses involve paying fees.
The integration of children with special needs into mainstream schooling is emphasized at school level. Children with special educational needs attending mainstream schools follow the normal curriculum, which may be adjusted to suit their particular needs.
For the vast majority of pupils with special needs, at any of the public school levels, support is provided within a class at the child’s local school, which receives all of the necessary modifications and resources. In cases where full-time attendance in a mainstream class is not appropriate for the child’s needs, special tuition in a resource room for specified periods per week may be recommended or, alternatively, attendance at a special unit within a mainstream school. Such special units offer the opportunity to provide more intensive special educational support to a small number of pupils (usually a maximum of six), whilst maintaining contact and a certain level of integration with a mainstream class. If neither of the above options is considered suitable, the child is recommended to attend a public special education school.
Home Education is allowed according to Law 113(I) 1999 for special education students of Pre-primary, primary and secondary education who are either handicapped or with special needs. Home education policy in Cyprus also includes students who have very serious health problems and have great difficulty in attending classes and also students who have serious problems for a short period of time due to a number of reasons which inhibit them to attend classes. Home Education is allowed only if it is approved by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Only the Ministry of Education teachers are approved to teach and simpler versions of exams are given to home education students according to the official curricula in order to help students be promoted successfully to the next grade.
Students with special needs are those who have serious learning or special learning, functional or adaptive difficulty due to physical (including sensory), mental or other cognitive or mental deficiencies and there is a need for the provision of special treatment and education.