The Anastasiades-DISY Government is completely indifferent to the fundamental problems in education

This year the new school year begins with very negative omens. This is due to the unacceptable handlings made by the government and ruling forces. Unfortunately, the Anastasiades-DISY Government has damaged in an unacceptable way the prestige of the Public School system and the dignity of our educators, acting with arrogance, authoritarianism and dogmatism.

We have difficulty in recalling any another Government, as a result of its actions and decisions, as well as the statements made by officials of the ruling party, that has caused so much damage to public education. This has been done to such an extent that people wonder very logically whether all these attacks (on public education) were deliberate.

However, apart from the enormous crisis in the field of Education, which the government and ruling forces themselves have provoked with their unilateral decisions, there are other very serious issues that for six years now have not been addressed or about which they have taken erroneous decisions.

– The Government and ruling forces, despite the disagreement expressed by OELMEK (Note: the mass unitary secondary school teacher’s trade union), the Organized Secondary Education Parents Associations and of the Organized School Student’s movement, are again proceeding to the implementation of the anachronistic institution of imposing examinations every four months. Apart from the fact that this policy will strengthen an exam-centred basis in the Educational System, besides the fact that it will also boost private tuition and affect the wider pedagogical role of Schools, it is obvious that the government and ruling forces are totally unprepared for its implementation.

– For six years now the Government and ruling forces have not proceeded to make any changes whatsoever in relation to the Evening Lyceums and Evening Technical Schools. We are talking about the second-chance schools and therefore they are an extremely sensitive institution. Unfortunately these schools continue to operate on the basis of timetables and curricula that were prevalent at the beginning of the 1990’s without any specialization in modern methods. AKEL has submitted for four years now a comprehensive proposal on this issue for the modernization of the institution. Our proposal includes, among other things, the preparation of educational material for adults, the creation of New Hours and New Analytical Programs that should be in line with the changes made in Lyceums and Technical Schools, as well as the provision of support and backing for those attending these Schools.

– Many schools face serious logistical and infrastructure problems due to the severe cuts that have been imposed since 2013 in the funds for the repair and building of schools. A major victim of this policy is the Technical Education system as well, since while it is evident that we need new Technical Schools, no practical step has been taken in this direction. Today, children who want to study at the Technical School are being rejected because no necessary spaces and infrastructures exist to accommodate them. Thousands of children continue to learn to play and study in buildings that are in need of immediate improvements.

– Another academic year begins with the field of research and innovation seriously downgraded in our country. The freezing of the programs of the Research Promotion Foundation (RPF), the inadequate research funds that are allocated to our Universities and the very limited possibilities of new doctoral scientists for research keep our country captive to outdated development models and hold it back to previous decades.

– About 300 teachers who worked last year in our schools, some with a very rich experience and services over many years, have found themselves out a job on the streets because of the Government’s decisions. At the same time, teachers who are working with the purchasing of services at the State Educational Institutes (KIE), at the musical and sports schools, evening and afternoon lessons, at the All-Day Schools and Post-Graduate Institutes of Vocational Education and Training, have been completely abandoned.

– While during the presidential election campaign the government promised that a specific number of posts would be given to new teachers mainly with the New System of Appointments, after the election with its decisions it has left a small fraction of these positions. If one takes into account that these measures, as it is being demonstrated today, were predetermined on the basis of the Reports of the World Bank, the Ernst and Young professional services firm and the Memoranda commitments of the government and ruling forces, this is an unprecedented lie and a deception of thousands of candidate teachers who dedicated a lot of time, money and strength to assert a job in education.

I want to make a particular and strong reference to a huge chapter of the public education system, namely Special Education for pupils with special needs. In our opinion, one of the biggest crimes committed by the Anastasiades-DISY government is that in the six years it has been in power it has done nothing for Special Education. As AKEL, we have submitted to the Government four years ago a comprehensive proposal on what needs to change. The Government chose to ignore us and didn’t take any measures whatsoever. Today, in our country, we can observe small human tragedies on daily basis our disabled children are suffering because of the Government and ruling force’s refusal to modernize and enhance Special Education. We are experiencing tragedies that are related to the fact that in essence our young people with disabilities, after 21 years of age, are in effect abandoned; that special schools need further strengthening and specialization depending on the ages and type of disability, coupled with the fact that we have not managed to promote the real integration of children with disabilities into our schools to the degree we would have liked.

All these facts confirm that the Anastasiades-DISY Government is completely indifferent to the fundamental problems in the field of education; that the recent crisis has been provoked by the government’s dogmatic insistence on imposing its neo-liberal policies and not on improving the quality of the education provided.

We call upon the Anastasiades-DISY Government to abandon its inertia and at long last address the problems faced by the public school.

Statement by the General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL A. Kyprianou on the start of the new school year

AKEL C.C. Press Office, 10 September 2018, Nicosia

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