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Innovations and developments - Cyprus

Innovations

The inclusion of pupils with special needs into mainstream education is a matter of major policy for the Ministry of Education and Culture that is in line with current international conventions and philosophical thought. The adoption of this policy has been accompanied by a change in the perceptions, beliefs and attitudes of society towards children with special needs whether they are in the education system or the community at large.

In 2001 decisions were taken to form policy for implementation of National Standards.  This decision was put into action and a procedure began in order to define National Standards.  A Committee of Experts appointed by the Council of Ministers in 2003, studied this policy further and made a proposal for an educational reform in Cyprus. Their proposal points out that implementing a policy for defining National Standards will cause more problems than it will solve.  They propose a reviewing of the National Curriculum so that the new version will give the teacher all the details required about teaching and the goals to be achieved by the pupils.  They also suggest that an assessment/research program should be developed, that will periodically assess the results of teaching in all basic subjects in order to evaluate the system and not the pupils.  Furthermore, they propose that new books are written in Cyprus for all lessons and that using books from Greece, which is an easy solution, should stop.

In 2004, the Ministry of Education and Culture, has assigned to the Pedagogical Institute of Cyprus and the University of Cyprus a large scale research for the implementation of the Law of 1999 for Special Education.  It is expected that this research will lead to important findings on the effectiveness of the Law and the suitability of provisions in primary education; it will reveal weaknesses and give implications for improvement and development, along with other possibilities, for curriculum policy. 

Developments

Assessment is an issue that raises a lot of debate.  In the past years, in Cyprus, pupils were assessed for purposes of transition from primary to secondary school.  If pupils failed their exams, they had to drop out of school or take exams again the following year.  Due to this procedure there were many pupils dropping out of school from the age of primary. This procedure was discarded because it came into contrast with the Law for Compulsory Education of 1993, which states that children are obliged to attend school until the age of 15.

However the idea of promoting all pupils in the gymnasium, from one grade to another, without having to repeat the same class, is currently being considered. 

In the frame of the Educational Reform which is now undertaken in Cyprus, the Committee appointed to prepare a proposal for the Reform, has made, amongst others, a suggestion for the elaboration of a study for the development in Cyprus of a system for internal evaluation of the performance of each school unit and the education provided within it.  This study should include, along with other suggestions, the:

  • Development of an Analyzed Guide for assessment of teaching procedures at school level and programming of the education to be given
  • Means for promoting the above (case studies, diagrams, assessment sheets, etc) 
  • Training for teachers.

As far as national standards are concerned, the committee for Educational Reform has suggested that trying to define national standards will cause more problems than solving the present ones.  Therefore they have proposed, as mentioned before, a revised version of the National Curriculum giving more details to teachers about what their pupils should learn at each lesson.  They also propose the development of an assessment procedure for evaluation of the results of teaching.  Assessing the product of the teaching procedure and the pupils' progress, as stated by the Committee, will be a means for designing more effective procedures and activities.  The Committee also suggests the writing of new books for all the lessons taught in schools so that teachers use these books and not the ones from Greece.  

Another suggestion is that assessment of the teaching procedures should become an important issue for study, with the co-operation of all those interested in the teaching procedure.  The results of assessment should be used for feedback on the effectiveness of the educational system and for reformation and amendments on the procedures used.

National Standards, as proposed in the Report of the Committee of Experts (2004), should be studied in relation to the whole philosophy of education and especially as part of assessment.

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