Global and intercultural dimension in curriculum development in Early Childhood and School Education
The European and international dimension has become a major strand in education in Cyprus, promoted interdisciplinary through the syllabi of various curriculum subjects and other school activities. The ‘European consciousness’ is promoted through the teaching of curriculum subjects like foreign languages, civics, history or geography, as well as cross-curricular subjects like health education, emotional education or multicultural education. A great number of schools also participate in programmes, activities and competitions which promote the European and international dimension in education, such as the Spring Day, the European Day of Languages, the European Language Label as well as other programmes mentioned earlier in this chapter (see: Pupil and Student Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education).
Multicultural Education has recently gained priority, as a growing number of bilingual children coming from the former Soviet Union and other countries have enrolled in schools in Cyprus. In response to this challenge, the Ministry of Education and Culture is promoting the implementation of support measures and policies aiming at the smooth integration of these children into the educational system and the Cyprus society. The following support measures are in line with the ‘Policy Report of the Ministry of Education for Multicultural Education’, approved by the Council of Ministers in 2008:
• Parallel classes for fast acquisition of the Greek language through intensive instruction;
• In-service training for teachers teaching Greek as a second and/or foreign language, organised by the Pedagogical Institute;
• Preparation, by the Centre for Educational Research and Evaluation, of a test for all schools to rank and classify pupils to the appropriate level;
• Preparation of an induction guide for new coming foreign pupils, translated into eight languages;
• Addition of new, relevant subjects in the new curriculum and textbooks; and,
• Production of new, suitable educational and pedagogical material.
In the framework of promoting multiculturalism, the European Year for Multicultural Dialogue 2008 was a main priority goal in the school year 2007/08 with many activities have taken place at the school level.
It must be also mentioned that children of religious and ethnic minorities (Turkish, Maronites, Armenians and Latins) who attend private schools in Cyprus are subsidised by the government.
Partnerships and networks in Early Childhood and School Education
Most of the school partnerships take place through the Comenius – Partnerships Programme, which enables organisations involved in the school education sector from different European countries to work together in various ways through the programme. Cyprus participates in School Partnerships and e-Twinning.
School partnerships enable school cooperation and class exchanges. In 2011, Cyprus was allocated €818,000.00 for school partnerships. In the period from 2007 to 2010, a total number of 188 schools participated in the Programme, of which 91 were secondary schools, 63 primary schools, 5 kindergartens, 7 schools of special education and 22 private schools.
The e-twinning Action offers an internet platform for teachers and schools. Cyprus joined the Action in 2005. Until 2011, 745 teachers from 314 different schools were registered in this Action.
The Comenius Programme also includes the Multilateral Projects and Networks Actions. These are large-scale Actions with organisations from different countries working together to develop, promote and disseminate good practice and innovation in school education. Cyprus participates in these Actions.
Cyprus schools participate in other international networks too, such as the following:
• European Network of Health Promoting Schools (ENHPS). This is a pioneering approach for the promotion of health, intended to support a healthy way of living for the school population of all school units. Cyprus has been a member of ENHPS since 1995.
• South Eastern Mediterranean Environmental Program (SEMEP). This is a UNESCO programme-network of environmental education that promotes the scientific study of environmental problems at the school level.
• Seed - Source of Life (Σποράκι – Πηγή Ζωής). This is a network of a number of schools from Greece and Cyprus in environmental education.