Certain initiatives have been promoted in relation to the implementation of the above objective. More specifically, bilateral cultural agreements promote the networking between artists, and public and private institutions in the fields of arts and culture. Co-operation is also promoted through European and international organisations, such as the European Union, UNESCO and the Council of Europe.
Additionally, the Ministry of Education and Culture supports art from Cyprus as well as co-productions with artists from abroad through cultural co-operation with the embassies of Cyprus abroad. Also, artists and cultural institutions such as Choirs, as well as dance groups from Cyprus are provided with financial support (travel grants) for their participation in cultural events abroad.
In addition to the above, the operation of cultural centres abroad (i.e. The House of Cyprus in Athens) aim at promoting art and culture from Cyprus while at the same time co-productions might also be supported in the context of bolstering intercultural dialogue.
The Ministry supports the operation of such institutions as the Music Information Centre of Cyprus which aims at showcasing the diverse musical achievements of contemporary scene of Cyprus and promoting networking amongst musicians living in Cyprus with musicians from abroad.
Intercultural dialogue is promoted also through a series of cultural events that are sponsored by the Ministry of Education and Culture and have already been mentioned in chapter 1.4.3. Moreover, in the context of the Funding Scheme, the Ministry of Education and Culture has sponsored dance groups and individual dancers / choreographers towards their participation in Dance Festivals abroad, as well as in international meetings and conferences organised by foreign agencies, such as Aerowaves, Bob Theater Festival (Athens), the Michalis Kakoyiannis Foundation, the Kalamata International Dance Festival and the International Choreographers Competition of Germany (Hanover).
The Cyprus Pedagogical Institute (CPI) participates in the Erasmus Programme. Mobility of trainers and trainees through Staff Mobility and Staff Training actions have contributed to transnational intercultural dialogue in the areas of comparative educational policies, social inclusion / exclusion in education and individual plurilingualism in education.
The department of Educational Documentation in the Pedagogical Institute has also published the following issue in 2010, “Intercultural Education for the smooth integration of students of immigrant background in schools and the society of Cyprus”.
The issue was co-financed by the European Social Fund and the Government of the Republic of Cyprus and is part of the plans for a smooth integration of students from third countries in the European educational system.
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 2.6). 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.