For the first time in the history of the enclaved schools at Rizokarpaso, in the northeastern part of Turkish occupied Cyprus, students will have the chance to enjoy after school activities such as learning foreign languages, computers, dancing and art.

The Government in cooperation and collaboration with Cyprus National Addictions Authority (ΝΑΑC) is launching this ambitious program next October. The budget for the program was approved by the Council of Ministers a year ago.

The schools at Rizokarpaso (kindergarten, primary and high school) accomodate a total of 43 students , two more than last year. But as Presidential Commissioner Photis Photio told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) , a family with six children has epxressed its will to return to Rizokarpaso and this means that the number of students will rise to 49 which is extremely encouraging.

Photiou said that the family`s application to relocate will be examined the soonest, in the framework of the existing regulations.

The Commissioner visited the schools on Thursday and had the chance to speak with the students, their teachers and their parents and to exchange views and suggestions. He explained that the program with extra curriculum activities will be implemented by a group of instructors by NAAC. But he said that if teachers wish to also participate, they are more than welcome to express their interest.

Tomorrow, a broad meeting has been scheduled to assess the program and go over the last details before implementation.

During the visit Photiou and his associates were briefed about the needs regarding the infrastructure and the equipment.

He said that due to weather conditions urgent repairs need to be done with the replacement of all doors and windows. He said that the budget has been approved and that the President of the Republic has assured many times that all needs by students and needs related to buildings etc should be dealt with immediately. He also said that a shed is needed for the high school court and this will be discussed with Cyprus Sport Organisation. He explained that because of the school`s architecture, the shed should be done in such a way that it blends in and therefore its construction might take some time.

The Commissioner also said that a playground will be set up for the kindergarten. All toys and special flooring have been purchased but government is expecting the green light by UNFICYP to transfer them to Rizokarpaso.

The kindergarten has one teacher and another one is expeted to be employed soon. The primary school has three teachers, the all day school has two and the high school has 18 but eleven are still waiting permission by UNFICYP so they could start work, due to obstacles by the regime in the occupied areas.

Photiou also told CNA that history, religious studies and sometimes greek language textbooks are forbidden by the regime, but all other textbooks are there and students have already collected them.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

Turkey occupied 36.2 percent of the sovereign territory of the Republic and forcibly expelled about 180,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes. Another 20,000 Greek Cypriots, who had remained in the occupied areas, were also forced to eventually abandon their homes and seek refuge in the safety of the government controlled areas. Today, few enclaved Greek Cypriots and Maronites remain in the occupied areas.

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