COMPENDIUM CULTURAL POLICIES AND TRENDS IN EUROPE
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Cyprus/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.7 Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes

Intercultural dialogue is defined as the cornerstone of all policies of the Ministry of Education and Culture as this is also overtly expressed in the budget policy priorities. The Ministry of Education and Culture takes specific measures for the promotion of intercultural dialogue both in educational policy as well as in cultural policy.  These measures are manifested either by initiatives which support and safeguard the cultural and ethnic identity of certain groups or by promoting certain activities which aim at bolstering intercultural dialogue.  More specifically, as far as the first aspect is concerned, one of the measures is the implementation of educational measures and policies that facilitate the smooth integration of groups from different cultural identities in a creative environment as well as the introduction of innovative approaches to teaching.  Moreover, during the year 2012, 332 Greek-Cypriots and 110 Maronite were living in occupied areas of Cyprus. Currently, three schools operate in the occupied areas, despite the difficulties which exist due to Turkish occupying regime's restrictions (i.e. censorship, non-acceptance of some teachers). Intercultural education was first officially introduced in the Cyprus education system in 2003 with directives to primary schools and in 2004 through the first report on the need of Educational Innovation (see Chapter 18, Educational Reform Text).

According to the Educational Legislation, all children and young people living in Cyprus regardless their language, religion, nationality etc. have the right for access to education (article 20 Cyprus Republic Constitution).

The general aim of the policy for the induction of students of migrant origin is the creation of educational environments in which all students should have equal opportunities of access and success in education. This is also emphasised in the New Curricula according to which the "democratic school" should enhance the multicultural character of the society in order to enrich knowledge, respect and enjoy life.

It is an undeniable truth that intercultural education is also connected to policies which aim at safeguarding cultural diversity (cf. chapter 4.2.4). In this context, school education in Cyprus aims at fostering intercultural awareness among students, teachers, and parents as well.  In addition to this, special measures are implemented for enhanced access and participation of newly arrived students of migrant background. Intercultural issues are also part of in-service teacher education.

In cultural policy, Intercultural dialogue is an underlying principle which is overtly expressed in the relevant documents of the Ministry. An emphasis is given both to bi-communal (amongst the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot community) as well as intercultural dialogue which is perceived as an agent for enhancing mutual understanding and solidarity. In the context of the peace talks and the confidence building measures (CBMs) in Cyprus, a bi-communal Cultural Committee was also established in May 2015.  Moreover, UNDP’s role has also been important in relation to cultural heritage conservation and protection of monuments which are considered of importance for Cyprus.

Furthermore in the funding schemes of the Ministry which operate in order to distribute the state grants to cultural operators, special emphasis is given to cultural diversity and the promotion of intercultural dialogue both amongst European partners and with third neighbouring countries. Therefore, the promotion of intercultural dialogue is implemented through funding programmes for the various art sectors (i.e. music, literature, theatre, film, etc.).

As a member of the Organisation of Francophonie, Cyprus supports different activities, aiming especially at young people.


Chapter published: 05-10-2015

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