New school curriculum in place

EDUCATION REFORM is entering a “crucial stage” with the first stage of the new school curriculum being implemented this school year, Education Minister Andreas Demetriou said yesterday.
The committee of experts responsible for education reform handed a new school curriculum for every class from nursery school up to the first grade of lyceum to Demetriou yesterday.
After two and a half years of dialogue and preparation, the new programmes are finally ready as part of the government’s pledge for education reform.
“This school year is considered the most crucial for educational reform as the new curricula will be introduced in nursery, primary and middle education until the first grade of lyceum (upper secondary school) as an injection to the existing programmes,” said Demetriou.
Head of the committee responsible for the changes, Georgios Tsiakalos, delivered the final programmes yesterday to the minister, along with a proposal for new timetables in primary and secondary schools.
Demetriou said the final versions are the result of public dialogue following delivery of the original documents in the spring. He explained that the ministry would introduce the new programmes this year, making any amendments necessary before their full implementation in schools the following year.
The curriculum for the second and third classes of lyceums is also due to be completed this year in preparation for the following school year.
The minister noted that after two and a half years, education reform is finally taking hold, with new programmes for each subject, four-month semesters replacing three-month school quarters and teacher training also due to start this year.
“We will taste the fruit of two and a half years of work, so that over the next two and a half years, everything will be in place,” said Demetriou.
He called on educators and society to embrace the new reforms to ensure that they do not just remain changes simply on paper.
“A wonderful curriculum can remain an excellent text and nothing more if all those involved and society itself does not embrace it warmly and if everyone does not do what they’re supposed to do,” he said.
Tsiakalos noted the new curriculum was unique in the sense that it left no gaps between classes. He said it was geared towards providing an adequate and coherent body of knowledge and cultivating skills necessary for people to be active democratic citizens.
The new programmes promote new ways of teaching that give pupils learning incentives and increase the impact of teaching, while aiming to create more democratic and humane schools, he said.
Government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said yesterday that with the completion of the new study programmes educational reform had entered a very decisive stage.
He highlighted educational reform was one of the president’s most important declarations in his pre-election campaign and was one of the many changes promoted “to solve long standing problems and face the challenges of a new era”.
These changes promoted by the government put Cypriot society “a step ahead”, he added.
Twenty one sub-committees, consisting of 53 academics from Greece and Cyprus and more than 400 teachers were invited to draft the new study programmes.
Education reform began with the previous government and continued with this one, taking many years due to the consensus-based approach adopted by the ministry.
The most controversial and sensitive area of reform was the subject of history, which drew a lot of fire from government critics, including the Archbishop who threatened to burn the new history books if they “changed the history of Cyprus”.