European Vocational Skills Week
The European Vocational Skills Week takes place once a year, it is an initiative of the European Commission and aims to demonstrate that Vocational Education and Training (VET)provides people with the necessary practical skills, knowledge, and abilities to succeed in the labor market and society at large. This year's theme was "Vocational Education and Training for All - Life Skills", while the motto of the initiative was "Find Your Talent".
During the event, Gymnasium students of Grade B and C in Larnaca and Famagusta districts had the opportunity to listen to the experiences of Technical school graduates who have managed to have a successful career through the knowledge, skills, and abilities that they acquired through their technical education in Cyprus Technical Schools.
The purpose of the event was to highlight the fact that every person is talented and capable and can inspire the students involved to reflect on their own abilities and discover their own talent.
Curriculum, subjects, and number of hours
A reform proposal was introduced by the Ministry of Education and Culture for STVE (System of Technical and Vocational Education) in 2001 for a new curriculum, aiming to establish a balance between general education subjects, technological education subjects, and practical workshop subjects. This is expected to be achieved through a number of innovative measures such as the introduction of a common year of study for both the Theoretical and the Practical Direction, the introduction of new branches of specialization and the introduction of elective subjects of special interest.
Through the reforms of Technical and Vocational Education, the Ministry of Education and Culture aims to increase the attractiveness of technical professions and develop skills and competencies which meet employers' needs.
In order to support and accelerate the reform process, the Ministry has prepared the Strategic Plan for the System of Technical and Vocational Education and Training 2015 - 2020”, which was approved in April 2015 (Decision Nr. 78.657) by the Council of Ministers.
The measures that will be implemented are part of a broader effort to improve the competitiveness and growth of the Cyprus economy. These measures are listed in 14.3 National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning.
The STVE program of education includes a variety of subjects that may be classified into the following six categories:
- common core subjects;
- related subjects;
- elective subjects;
- technological/workshop subjects;
- optional subjects of special interest; and,
- industrial training.
Theoretical courses and the first and second years of practical courses are completely school-based and combine general education subjects with technological and practical workshop subjects. The third year of studies in the practical pathway combines a school-based environment with work experiences, with final year students being placed in companies for one day a week, as they undertake a practical training program.
Pupils in their second year of studies can select one elective subject of special interest. This is a subject that is not included in the standard curriculum, thereby giving pupils the opportunity to enrich their knowledge and follow their individual inclinations and talent.
There is a general outline of the STVE curriculum, which was drawn up by the Directorate of STVE in May 2002 and is entitled ‘Public Secondary Technical and Vocational Education’. There are also individual syllabuses for each subject and specialization. These syllabuses have been devised by the Directorate of STVE in close cooperation with the STVE Advisory Committee; the Branches and Specialisations Advisory Committee for STVE; employers' and manufacturers' organizations; employees' organizations; and, the Human Resource Development Authority (HRDA).
Students enrolled in Technical Schools can choose between Eleven (11) fields of study.
ICT and language learning has gained importance in the curriculum STVE during the last decade. A compulsory ICT course is offered in the first year of studies for two periods per week, while in the second and third years ICT is optional for all specializations. Computer Engineering is offered as a specialization in the Theoretical Stream. CISCO-CCNA Networks (CISCO (Computer Information System Company) Certified Network Associate), which is certified by the CISCO Academy, was also introduced in 2003/04 at one of the technical schools in Lefkosia. In addition, ICT is used as a teaching tool in all technological and practical workshop subjects.
Regarding Modern Foreign Languages, English is a compulsory subject in technical schools, while other languages are available as elective subjects.
Teaching methods and materials
There is no set methodological approach that is imposed by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Teachers in technical schools are expected to choose the teaching methodology which is best suited to their circumstances.
The revised system of STVE is based upon an instructional approach that places pupils at the center of the educational process. Modern teaching methods are currently being introduced, including group work and creative learning techniques. Pupils are encouraged to take initiative in their learning and teachers are systematically trained to be in a position to implement the new student-centered teaching methods. Modern educational technologies are also employed, with, in particular, the use of the Internet, interactive multimedia materials and audiovisual aids, in order to motivate pupils and promote independent learning.
In order to provide pupils with the experience, they require for a smooth transition into the labor market, the machines, and equipment used in laboratories simulate as closely as possible real workplace situations.
Core teaching materials are the same for all technical schools. These are produced by the Curriculum Development Unit of the Pedagogical Institute of Cyprus and provided free of charge to the schools.
There are no official recommendations regarding homework. However, this is considered as an indispensable part of the teaching/learning process at technical schools.
The Ministry of Education and Culture, and more specifically the Department of Secondary Technical and Vocational Education is currently in the process of reforming and upgrading the public VET system.
Information on The Strategic Plan for the Reform of VET is found in 14.3 National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning and it refers to the process of reforming and upgrading the public VET system. The successful implementation of these measures is of vital importance, to enable the country to become competitive again through growth and job creation.