THE OPENING of a French-Cypriot school to be run by both France and Cyprus is of huge political significance, said Education Minister Andreas Demetriou yesterday in response to the project’s critics.

Demetriou quashed thoughts of shelving the idea, saying: “There are very serious national and ethnic reasons the government decided to proceed with this. The decision has been taken that it will happen,” he said.

“A proposal was made by the French government to the Cyprus government for the creation of a French-Cypriot school. This school will come under the supervision of both governments,” he said, noting it was a joint venture of both countries, whose governments would appoint a French/Cypriot board, with the Cypriots being the majority.

“The school’s programme won’t be purely French. It will be around 40 per cent Greek and 60 per cent French,” he added.

Secondary school teachers’ union OELMEK yesterday said it was not against the school itself but opposed reported plans to close down the Constantinoupoleos gymnasium in Nicosia to house the French-Cypriot school.

OELMEK said it will not accept “in any circumstances” the termination of a public school to cater to such a project, adding “it will stand against every effort to abolish public schools for the sake of private or other forms of education”.

Demetriou responded that no final decision had been taken yet on where to house the new school and that all options were still on the table, including the possibility of using Constantinoupoleos gymnasium or that of Engomi or even building a new school.

Noting that building a new school would deprive the ministry of its budget for other projects, the minister argued that all that was needed was “a small redistribution of pupils in their area to meet all our needs”.

He pointed out that the ministry had three gymnasiums next to each other which can host 1,500 pupils and only have 700 pupils.

“And next door I have a school with 250-280 pupils. Isn’t it logical to utilise the spaces that are surplus?

Source: Cyprus Mail

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