Health Cards for students participating in school sports competitions
On June 28, 2023, the Council of Ministers approved a proposal by the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth, based on which the issuance of a Health Card for primary and secondary students participating in school competitions becomes a necessity.
This measure will be applied starting 2024.
Global Survey of school-age health behaviors: How students were affected by the Covid-19 Pandemic
The World Health Behavior in school-aged children (HBSC) international survey Health Organization (WHO) is held every four years and provides international comparative data on health, quality of life, social environment and the health behaviors of school children (11, 13 and 15 years old). It is
recognized internationally as an authoritative source of information on health issues of teenagers, adopting the position that health includes physical, social and emotional aspects.
The HBSC survey has been carried out since 1983 and approximately 50 countries worldwide participate in it. Following a Cabinet decision (#290/2018), the research was placed under the auspices of the Ministries of Health and Education, Sports and Youth (YPAN), while its implementation is carried out by the Center for Educational Research and Evaluation (KEEA), of the Pedagogical Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The pilot survey was conducted in December 2018 and involved 1182 students from 61 schools. The main survey was carried out during the period November 2021 – April 2022 with the participation of 4818 students from a total of 212 schools, both public and private.
In addition to the publication of these four topics, on June 28, 2023, the results of the research concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects it had on the health and well-being of children, were announced. The results were presented in four parts, in the form of short reports and include data from 22 countries, including Cyprus, that used the optional package of questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic in the questionnaire.
The results of the four reports concerning the 22 participating countries are summarized as follows:
During the COVID-19 pandemic:
• Relationships with family and friends improved.
• Mental health, physical activity and school performance were negatively affected.
• Girls, older teenagers and those coming from less affluent families have experienced more negative effects.
• Adolescents' experiences were varied and complex.
Educational material for the reception and integration of students with an immigrant background
The Cyprus Pedagogical Institute and the Center for Social Innovation (CSI) announced on February 1, 2023 the completion of the two-year ERASMUS+ KA3 Project "PASSAGE - Pedagogies of Passing from Reception to Education").
The Project was implemented in collaboration with partners from Slovenia Greece, Portugal, Lithuania and Italy.
The goal of the PASSAGE Project was to promote inclusive and quality education for all newly arrived students with an immigrant background, from the initial stages of their integration process. The Project focused on empowering teachers to deal more effectively with existing pedagogical challenges, through the design and promotion of a role-model pilot program with the participation of students. The informational and educational material produced in the framework of the Project are available to all teachers and the schools of participating countries in national languages and in English.
Video Production Competition for the Safe and Creative Use of Internet
On February 7, 2023, the final phase of evaluation of the participations in the competition "Video Production by Students for the Safe and Creative Use of Internet", took place at the Olympic Palace. The competition was organized by the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute with the support of the Safe Center Cyprus Internet – Cyber Safety.
The competition, which for the second year focused on creating animations, aims to develop skills in relation to media education and also important horizontal skills, such as autonomy learning, communication, collaboration, digital literacy, creativity and innovation. In particular, investigation is made in matters concerning internet safety, opinion formation, message composition, information to other children and adults, which contribute to effective learning and the formation of attitudes about the issue of the safe use of Internet.
The competition is part of safer Internet Day, which this year celebrates 20 years of presence.
Online meetings for the implementation of the sanitary protocols and for the management of covid-19
A number of online meetings have taken place to educate Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary school students on the implementation of the sanitary protocols and for the management of covid-19 cases, namely:
- The role of the D mutation in 2021
- The latest recommendations from abroad
- Health protocols 2021-2022
- Infection management and close contacts in schools
- The importance of vaccination against Covid-19
According to the studies carried out, children are asymptomatic or develop only a mild infection, which makes it harder to detect or diagnose.
Schools do not pose a greater risk of infection for children than any other public place, and are unlikely to drive transmission of the virus.
Multiple and combined prevention strategies at school include:
- Physical distancing
- Consistent and correct use of mask
- Natural ventilation
- Carrying out diagnostic tests for immediate detection of cases
- Establishment of a clear procedure for managing confirmed cases
- Proper process of tracking close contacts
- Proper and thorough hand washing / use of antiseptic solution
- Cleaning and disinfection
- Promotion of vaccination
Supplementary Health Protocol for Kindergartens
For the operation of the Kindergartens, the Health Protocol for the Primary Education schools is applied.
However, due to the age of the children and their needs, the application of the Kindergarten schedule, as well as the particularities of the Kindergartens, (eg size of school unit, number of staff, layout of the classroom, ..) the Health Protocol Protocol for Kindergartens, is additionally applied with the continuous supervision of children, and with the involvement of all teaching and non-teaching staff.
Supplementary Health Protocol for Special Education
The entry of parents / guardians and / or other persons inside the school is strictly prohibited.
In very exceptional and absolutely necessary cases and always after the approval of the school management, another person besides the employees and the students can enter the school premises. It is understood that in case another person is deemed necessary to enter the school premises, he must necessarily present at the entrance of Safepass and observe the safety and health measures in force.
Incentive Plan for Employment of Young People aged 15 to 29 who are out of employment, education or training
The Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Security has announced on the 5th of November, 2021, the 3rd Call for Applications, under the Sponsorship Plan, "Incentive Plan for Employment of Young People aged 15 to 29 who are out of Employment, Education or Training (Not in Education, Employment or Training - NEETs” and may be co-financed by the Youth Employment Initiative and the Republic of Cyprus.
The Plan aims to provide support-sponsorships to companies to facilitate the recruitment of persons belonging to the target group, as defined in the Plan, young people aged 15 - up to 29, who are out of employment, education or training, and are registered with the Public Employment Service (PES) before the date of submission of the application for participation in the Project.
Those interested can obtain the Plan Implementation Guide, which lists all the required details, the Proposal Application Form and any other required form or document, from the website of the Department of Labor, and the website of DG EPSA.
Definition of the target groups
Other categories of children in need of special support include bilingual children, such as children of returnees and foreigners and children of migrant workers. The number of students who fall into the category of children of immigrants is still relatively small in Cypriot schools, as immigration to the island is a relatively new phenomenon. However, in recent years, a growing number of pupils from other countries (mainly from countries of the former Soviet Union) have enrolled in all levels of education. The number of foreign students in primary education schools has increased from 6.7% in 2005/06 to 9.0% in 2008/09. The Directorates of Primary and Secondary Education have introduced a number of measures to facilitate the smooth integration of bilingual children into the educational system of Cyprus and promote cultural awareness.
Specific support measures
Migrant children are accepted for enrolment in any public school and are enjoying equal education rights to Cypriot students. The policy of the Ministry of Education and Culture, as set out in the "Policy Report of the Ministry of Education for Multicultural Education", has been to recognise the language and diverse cultural traditions of the different groups, whilst supporting those pupils who do not have Greek as their first language to improve their language skills in order to facilitate a smooth transition into the society of Cyprus. Within the framework of the creation of a democratic school that will incorporate and include all students, the following measures are promoted by the Ministry of Education and Culture:
● Parallel classes for fast acquisition of the Greek Language through intensive instruction;
● In-service training seminars for teachers for the teaching of Greek as a second/foreign language, organised by the Pedagogical Institute;
● The use of specific tests in order to rank students and place them in the appropriate language class;
● Preparation of an induction guide in eight languages that will give information on the educational system of Cyprus to foreign students and their parents;
● Use of educational and pedagogical material suitable for students whose language is other than Greek;
● Infusion of intercultural elements into the new curricula and the school textbooks.
If there are a significant number of such children within a school requiring this kind of additional support, it is likely that the school will fall into one of the newly created Education Priority Zones, which are eligible for additional support in a number of ways.