At the request of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth in Cyprus, the European Commission’s Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS) is co-operating with the Agency to assist in preparing a new bill for inclusive education in Cyprus. The initiative is funded by the European Union through the Structural Reform Support Programme.
The first phase of the initiative was completed in summer 2019 and resulted in the development of a draft bill on inclusive education. The second phase includes a resource analysis of the current system, a study visit, and thematic working groups in Cyprus. The overall aim of these activities is to prepare the regulations to accompany the draft bill on inclusive education.
After the kick-off meeting for the second phase, the SRSS work continued with a four-day study visit in Lisbon, Portugal, on 18–21 November 2019. Five representatives from the Cypriot Ministry, the European Agency staff and a representative from the European Commission visited inclusive primary and secondary schools and discussed inclusive policy and practice with professionals, parents and policy-makers. The programme was organised by the Portuguese Ministry of Education.
The study visit gave the Cypriot delegation an opportunity to observe classes and discuss with a range of school professionals and learners in real-world contexts. The discussions focused on specific questions about the way the schools operate and implement inclusive practice. The highlight of the visit was the extent to which the Cypriot delegation engaged with the local stakeholders.
During the visit, the participants also took part in a round table discussion in the Ministry of Education with key stakeholders, including school leaders from different school clusters and representatives from the Portuguese Resource Centres for Inclusion. A constructive dialogue took place between the Cypriot and the Portuguese delegation, focusing upon important aspects of implementation of the new educational law in Portugal.
The Ambassador for Cyprus in Portugal, Mr Andreas Ignatiou, invited the Cypriot and Portuguese delegation to social event at the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Lisbon, reinforcing the close relationships between the two countries.
Overall, the study visit allowed the representatives of the Cypriot Ministry to reflect upon important aspects of their own legislative reform, as well as issues and challenges around implementation. This experience is expected to contribute positively to the working group work in Cyprus, which will begin in January 2020.