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School year starts with the promise of reforms.


Argyro Nicolaou

PRIMARY schools opened their doors yesterday to 8,130 new students, with the start of this academic year, promising important changes in the education system, according to the Ministry of Education and Culture.

While the number of first year students has increased this year by 250 to 8,130, the total number of primary school students has dropped. Early yesterday morning a total of 49,543 students showed up at primary schools, 550 less than last year. More specifically, there were 17,873 students in Nicosia, 9,430 in Larnaca, 12,864 in Limassol, 5,543 in Famagusta and 5,833 in Paphos, according to Nicoletta Orfanidou, an official at the Director of State Education's office.

Today marks the opening of the 115 secondary schools that will be active and that will accommodate 47,460 students this year. Charalambos Hadjithomas of the Education Planning Unit said that 24,390 of these were gymnasium students and 23,070 were lyceum students.

The Director of Public Education, Stelios Stylianou, speaking on CyBC's Trito radio said that this year has been better than other years as far as staffing schools and the supply of books were concerned. When asked about construction sites in schools, Stylianou reassured the public that all the necessary precautions and safety measures are being taken, so as to safeguard the well-being of students.

"We have over 500 schools in Cyprus, so it's only logical that there will be new upgraded structures under construction every year," Stylianou said. Many of the construction sites are undertaking anti-earthquake upgrades of school buildings.

In a speech he gave at the Pernera primary school in Nicosia on the occasion of the new school year, the Minister of Education, Andreas Demetriou, said that education required consent, a constructive spirit and creativity. "Education will always remain in harmony with the targets and pursuits of Cyprus, aiming to educate youth for the ultimate goal of ridding the country of occupation," Demetriou said.

He also mentioned that this year is a "milestone for Cypriot education" as through its new educational reform program the Ministry strives towards creating a "modern, democratic and human school" in which students can be shaped into active and democratic citizens.

The chairman of the House's Education Committee, Nicos Tornaritis, expressed his hope for the success of the Ministry's educational reforms. After a very tense meeting of the Committee with the Minister of Education and Culture on Tuesday, where Tornaritis accused the Minister and his Ministry of inefficiency, Tornaritis yesterday said that now that spirits were calmer the Minister is given another chance

Speaking at the primary school of Faneromeni in Nicosia which he visited yesterday morning along with other members of the House Education Committee, Tornaritis emphasised its significance, as it is a school that lies in the heart of the island's divided capital and which educates children from all over the world.

"These children send out a message that the EU also sends out to every one of us. That of respecting diversity, tolerance and multiculturalism," Tornaritis said.

According to Ministry of Education and Culture statistics, during the year 2009-2010 there were 8500 non-Greek speakers in Cyprus' public schools. The Ministry caters for them with extra language classes, a policy that is to be expanded to more schools as part of the Ministry's educational reforms.

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Geographic Code:4EXCY
Date:Sep 10, 2010
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