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).
Intercultural Education was officially introduced in Cyprus Education system in 2003 with directives to primary schools and in 2004 through the first report on the need of Educational Innovation.
- Subsidisation programme for the translation and publication of works by established Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot literary authors from Greek into Turkish and from Turkish into Greek.
- The Ministry of Education and Culture also facilitates the co-operation with the Turkish Cypriot community and promotes the rights of all individuals by supporting a variety of bi-communal film Festivals, with both Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot Film Directors and producers.
- Τhe Ministry also supports on an annual basis, the “Cyprus International Kids Film Festival” a festival with a bi-communal character, which includes film screenings and film workshops, open to kids for all Cypriot citizens, including Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots.
- The “Programme for Film Funding and Support to Cinematographic Works / regulation for Film Funding”, as well as the application form has been translated into the Turkish language, facilitating the application process to all Turkish-Cypriot Producers, living on the Island. Through the “Programme for Film Funding and Support to Cinematographic Works”, the Ministry has also supported cinematographic co-productions of feature films between Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot Film Producers. A number of documentaries with Turkish-Cypriot film Directors have been produced with the support of the Ministry.
- Further cooperation between the two communities was also enhanced with the publication of a bilingual anthology of short stories written by Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot writers in 2013 through the initiative of the Letters section of the Ministry. The anthology covered the period between 1960-2010 and included representative samples of writing from both communities.
- To further ensure political representation of the three religious minority groups and promote their strong involvement in the planning and implementation of various projects, financial assistance is provided for their educational and cultural needs (e.g. for Armenians).
In recent years a large number of migrants led to a diversification in the composition of the student population in Cyprus. Economic migrants are arriving in Cyprus in larger numbers than before. In such a context, certain measures have been developed by the Ministry of Education and Culture in order to facilitate the smooth integration of these students. Along with the intensive teaching of Greek language, a “Reception Guide” for migrant families, translated into the eight most dominant foreign languages that appear on the island has been prepared. Moreover, multiculturalism is being promoted both in the framework of the school curriculum as well as in the form of various support measures. In an attempt to integrate in an effective way foreign speaking students in our educational system, the Ministry of Education and Culture utilised resources provided by the European Integration Fund.
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 of the Educational Reform according to which “the democratic school aims at enhancing the multicultural character of the society in order to enrich knowledge avoid stigma, respect and enjoy life”.
In particular the specific objectives related to:
- the development of specific and coherent measures for migrant students’ educational induction;
- the creation of institutional structures that enable effective education for all;
- the development of Intercultural awareness among students, teachers and parents;
- the development of intercultural material and methods; and
- the development of special measures for newly arrived students of migrant background.
All the above are also promoted through in service teacher education on intercultural issues through different types of training (school based, conferences, intervention programmes, all-day seminars etc.).
School based seminars
In order to cover the educational needs of migrant students and children from refugee and asylum-seeker families, school based intervention programmes are organised. For example within the framework of multicultural education a school-based teacher training was applied in a public nursery school in Nicosia, Cyprus in which a large number of migrant pupils is enrolled. The main goal of these sessions was to create a basis for reflection and interaction among the teaching staff about issues related to the social and learning development of migrant pupils.
During the past few years, a growing number of pupils, coming mainly from the former Soviet Union and other foreign countries, have enrolled in Primary Schools in Cyprus. About 11.7% of the pupils attending Public Primary Schools do not speak Greek as their mother language. Bearing in mind that nowadays, the society is becoming even more multicultural, the Ministry of Education and Culture needs to approach the subject of multicultural education with great sensitivity. This means that it is of vital importance to provide an education that supports the language and distinctive cultural features of the various ethnic groups, but also to provide an education that helps bilingual pupils to learn Greek as their second language for a smoother transition to the Greek Cypriot society. The following table from the Ministry’s Annual Report (2011) shows the percentage of foreign pupils during the past four years.
Table 1: Share of foreign pupils at school, 2005-2010
|School year||Number of foreign pupils||Percentage of all pupils|
In response to these demands and the changing social environment, both national and international, the Ministry of Education and Culture is promoting the implementation of educational measures and policies, which will facilitate the smooth integration of groups from different cultural identities in a creative environment, regardless of background. The Department of Primary Education makes provisions, so that bilingual pupils are distributed evenly in the various districts, schools and even classrooms, so that teachers can support their linguistic and cultural needs more effectively. Multicultural education is currently being practiced in Cyprus in the form of various support measures. These measures can be categorised as measures for language support, which refer to the learning of Greek as a second language and measures for facilitating the smooth integration of groups with different cultural identities. The model that is currently being used is the mainstreaming programme, in which bilingual pupils participate in the classrooms along with the native Greek-speaking pupils. The Adult Education Centers offer afternoon classes for learning Greek as a second language to the children of the repatriated ethnic Greeks, but also to all those interested in the subject.
The Department of Primary Education has promoted several cultural measures to promote multicultural awareness. The Department also realises the need to provide teachers with the opportunity to further develop their learning and teaching approaches to all children. Within this context, it organises in-service training seminars and conferences to teachers who teach bilingual pupils. Developing multicultural awareness, providing information among the pupil population of the way of life, patterns of thought and attitudes of different people, attempting to understand these differences and communicating with these people, are important features of schools.
In 2008, the Council of Ministers approved the “Policy Report of the Ministry of Education for Multicultural Education”. According to the relevant suggestions of the Report of the Educational Reform and within the framework of the creation of a democratic school that will incorporate and include all pupils, certain measures, that aim to the rapid and smooth induction of foreign pupils to the school system and the Cyprus society, are in the process of implementation.
Also school based seminars on preventing and facing bullying for teachers and parents, with special emphasis on ethnic diversity and gender roles are offered.