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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Teaching and learning in general lower secondary education


6.Secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education

6.2Teaching and learning in general lower secondary education

Last update: 6 March 2024

Section 6.2 concerns teaching and learning issues. Three subsections are distinguished. The first one
relates to the curriculum organization, subjects offered and numbers of hours allowed to each subject.
The second one focuses on the specialisation of studies and the third one on teaching methods and
materials used.

Curriculum, Subjects, and Number of Hours

At the Gymnasium level, a 3-year program of general education enriched with elements of technical knowledge is offered. All the subjects taught are compulsory. There are syllabuses for each subject, consisting of goals, subject matter and indicative teaching methods and materials. Syllabuses for each subject are devised by a team of experts comprising inspectors and teachers. A new, integrated curriculum for all subjects at all levels of school education, is gradually replacing the existing syllabuses as part of the ongoing Educational Reform.

The new curriculum was applied in June 2008 by the establishment of a Scientific Commission for the Revision of the School Curricula (Επιστημονική Επιτροπή για την Αναθεώρηση των Αναλυτικών Προγραμμάτων) and it was completed by the work of teams of specialists for each subject, consisting of university lecturers and primary and secondary school teachers. The official acceptance and publication of the new curricula were preceded by aψperiod of public consultation.

The new curricula encompass the broad aims of education in Cyprus; i.e. fundamental pedagogical principles; subject related principles; and, aims and objectives and the content for every curriculum subject for all grades. The curricula also encompass elements of teaching and learning methodology; indicators of achievement; methods of evaluation; and, indicative teaching activities.  

The broad aim of the new curricula is to contribute to the development of people that:

• Possess a satisfactory and connective body of knowledge from all areas of science;

• Develop behaviors and attitudes that characterize a democratic citizen; and,

• Possess, to the maximum possible degree, abilities, skills, and competencies that are required in the ‘knowledge society’ of the 21st century, including critical thinking; theoretical thinking and the ability to transfer theory into practice; analytical and planning abilities; problem-solving; creativity; cooperative abilities; optimal and sensible use of ICT; empathy; and, communication skills.

Starting September 1st, 2015, the following changes on the curricula of Gymnasiums were applied in the new timetable:

  • Increase of the number of the weekly teaching periods from 37 to 38;
  • Small variations in the distribution of teaching periods per course.

More information on the new timetable of General Lower Secondary Education is available from the website of the Ministry of Education and Culture.

ICT and foreign language learning are a priority in the educational system of Cyprus. The overall goal for ICT is to harmonize initiatives to those of e-Europe and to develop Cyprus potential to be a regional center for providing educational services, including services in ICT. A national syllabus for ICT as a subject in its own right was for the first time implemented in 2002 at all levels of the public education system, while ICT as a tool has been integrated within other subject areas, such as foreign language learning.

In relation to the learning of foreign language learning, two foreign languages - English and French – are compulsory across the three grades of the gymnasium. Their broader aims are parallel to those of modern language teaching and learning, focusing on ‘know-what’ (content syllabus), ‘know-how’ (skills) and ‘know-why’ (cultural awareness and critical evaluation). Language Rooms are gradually being established at the gymnasium level. Modern Language Rooms are multi-functional classrooms that can be used either as a conventional classroom, as a Self Access Centre (SAC) or as a Language Resource Centre (LRC).


The operation of Steam schools

The Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth (MESY) informs that for the school year 2024-2025 the operation of the institution of the All-day Gymnasium of Interdisciplinary Learning continues, with parallel operation of two directions – direction STEAM and direction "Greek language and culture".
The attendance of students during the morning will take place according to the existing timetable of the gymnasiums, while the afternoon meetings will take place between the hours of 14.00 – 15.20.

Music Activities

As part of the strategic planning of the music sector 2021-2030 with emphasis on quality music education, and skills development and digital transformation in the 21st century, the Office of Secondary General Education Music Inspection, with the support of the Pedagogical Institute, has set among others the following objectives:

  • Training teachers in the use and integration of digital technologies in the educational process.
  • Development of pilot projects for the implementation and evaluation of new digital educational practices.
  • Organization of educational conferences, seminars, and events for the sharing of knowledge and experiences on digital transformation in education.
  • Development and promotion of digital educational resources and tools for teachers and students.

Survey results for the program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2022

The programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is organized by the organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of educational systems for 15-year old students of private and public schools. The PISA 2022 research focused on mathematics, science, reading comprehension, and creative thinking. 
In Cyprus, the average performance of students was lower than the EU average. Girls outperformed boys in all three cognitive domains, and students with a migrant background showed similar performance to native students. 
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth in Cyprus is using the research data to improve the educational system, with a focus on critical thinking, creativity, and skills development. New policies and actions aim to address long-standing issues in the education system, with a focus on assessment, full-day schooling, early childhood education, prevention of school violence, curriculum enrichment, technology integration, and more. The Ministry's governance program and action plan for 2024-25 target the improvement of the educational system in Cyprus, with a need for time, persistence, and continuous monitoring to see the results of these efforts.

Study of the International Civic and Citizenship Education  (ICCS) 

The International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) is a global research initiative that provides comparative data on political education and citizenship among 13-year-old students. The ICCS 2022, focused on sustainable development, migration, diversity, social interaction, and global citizenship. The study involved 22 countries and 2 regions, with Cyprus participating through the Center for Educational Research and Evaluation. The research was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 3136 students and 1147 educators from 196 schools taking part. 

The results showed that Cypriot students scored lower than the international average in political education and citizenship content. Girls outperformed boys, and younger students performed better than older ones. Students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and immigrant backgrounds had lower performance in political education and citizenship. 

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth aims to use the research data to improve the educational system through various policies and actions, including promoting critical thinking, creativity, and citizenship skills in the curriculum. The Governance Program and action plan for 2024-25 target addressing the chronic distortions in the educational system in Cyprus.

The World Gymnasiade 2023

On December 18, 2023, the athletes who participated in the World Gymnasiade, for the ages under 15 years old, were awarded in a ceremony in the premises of the Ministry. World Gymnasiade took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from August 21 to 26, 2023, with the participation of 44 countries and over 2000 athletes. The Cypriot delegation, consisting of 17 athletes, returned with impressive results, including gold, silver, and bronze medals, as well as a "fair play" award. The delegation also showcased Cyprus during the "Nations' Night," promoting Cypriot cuisine and culture. The General Director of the Ministry of Education, Sports, and Youth emphasized the importance of Cyprus's participation in such high-level sports events and highlighted the ministry's commitment to continuously improve school sports and support athletes and coaches towards success.

Grant for the purchase of a tablet for Grade 3 students and a laptop for grade 2 Gymnasium students

In the context of the recovery and Resilience plan and specifically the project "Digital Transformation of school units to strengthen digital skills and skills related to STEM education", the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth will proceed with the grant purchase of tablets and laptops.
The goal of digital transformation of teaching and learning as well as of the development of students' digital skills will be enhanced through the student support.
The Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth will grant a €100 grant for the purchase of tablets for the 3rd grade students of public Primary schools and €300 sponsorship for the purchase of laptop computers for the 2nd grade Gymnasium students in public schools. The grant will be given to families receiving child benefit with annual gross income of the previous year up to €19500.

Teaching Methods and Materials

Teaching is structured by subject. The Ministry of Education and Culture does not prescribe guidelines for the teaching methodologies used in gymnasia. As all teachers are university graduates and have completed one year of pre-service professional training, they are expected to be familiar with all new teaching methodologies and techniques and to use the best method which meets the needs of the students and the requirements of the syllabus. At the beginning of every school year, special instructions on the use of the syllabus are sent out to teachers or given out as part of seminars facilitated by the Inspectorate of Secondary General Directorate,

Teachers are responsible for assessing the abilities and needs of their pupils and modifying their teaching accordingly. All methods in modern pedagogy are applied according to the subject and a variety of teaching materials and technological aids are used. Small group activities, project work, and computer-assisted learning are encouraged. The system of inspections ensures that teachers are using appropriate and up-to-date classroom methodology in their teaching.

The Curriculum Development Unit of the Pedagogical Institute of Cyprus is responsible for the development of books and audio-visual content that teachers and pupils use during lessons. All textbooks, materials, and teaching aids are provided to schools and pupils free of charge. All core teaching texts are the same in the public secondary general system. However, a school may opt to buy and use additional teaching materials.

Homework is one of the topics included in the curriculum that the Pedagogical Institute includes in the books that are used.

Operation of All-day High Schools of Interdisciplinary Learning

In an announcement on March 2, 2023, the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth (MESY) informs that the operation of full-day High School of Interdisciplinary - Learning with Parallel two-way operation – “STEAM” Direction and Direction "Greek Language and Culture", will continue for the school year 2023-2024.
The students' classes, during the morning time, will take place based on the existing high school schedule, while the evening meetings will take place between the hours of 14:00 – 15:20.