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Cyprus Education

The structure of the Educational System in Cyprus has been assessed by UNESCO experts in 1997, when the Principles, Objectives and Aims have been characterised as excellent and of a high standard. Ever since, several improvements have been accomplished. The Structure of the Educational System consists of Pre-Primary, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Education. All the levels of Education are available both in Public and Private Institutions, which are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Pre-Primary Education
Pre-Primary Education is compulsory for all the children in the age of five (5), therefore there are Public Pre-Primary Schools in all the urban areas as well as the rural areas. In these Public Schools there are also classes available for the four year-old children. Nurseries all over the island fall in tree categories: Public Nursery Schools, Communal Nursery Schools and Private Nursery Schools. The Public Nursery Schools which are established by the Ministry of Education and Culture in cooperation with the parent’s associations and community authorities, operate all over Cyprus. The Ministry is responsible to appoint staff and to provide the necessary equipment. The Communal Nurseries are run by parents’ associations and community authorities. Supervision is under the Ministry of Education and Culture. The Ministry is granting approval to individuals in order to establish and run Private Nurseries, which are under its jurisdiction and operate by the provisions of the educational legislation. In the private sector operate classes for children that are under five years, including infants. Among the private Institutions there are also foreign-language schools. The fees at the private sector vary from €1500 to €3 500 per child per year. At public schools attendance is for free or with lower fees.

Primary Education
Education is mandatory up to age of fifteen (15). The primary school lasts for six (6) years and is provided free of charge at the state schools. Children between 5years and eight months to eleven years and eight months are obliged to attend school for five days of the week. Primary education is also provided by Greek-language private schools and by English-language, Russian-language and French language private schools all operating under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Culture. The cost of attendance at these private Institutions vary between €4 500 to €6 500, with scholarships granted to top students. Nevertheless foreign students are also admitted in public Schools and receive special lessons to learn the Greek language so as to be able to keep up with their peers.

Secondary education
However the secondary education is divided into two parts: Gymnasium and Lyceum that last for 3 years each. These six years of secondary education are commonly called as high school education. Another option for students is to go to a technical school as soon as finishing the primary education, instead of going to a Gymnasium, or even finish gymnasium education and continue your path in s technical school instead of continuing in a Lyceum. Technical schools can be found in all the major cities and are well organized, offering practical and theoretical experience over certain professions. Upon completion of Lyceum or the Technical school students receive the school leaving certificate, called “Apolytirion”, which is required for those who want to continue to further studies at Tertiary Educational Institutions in Cyprus and Overseas.

Tertiary Education
Cyprus is home to two State Universities, the University of Cyprus and the Cyprus University of Technology. Also, four Private Universities are offering bachelors, masters and doctorates in almost every field. Further more, there are a lot of private colleges that offer higher education, with several accredited courses available for studies. There are also several Public Institutions that operate under the jurisdiction of certain Ministries, like the Cyprus Forestry College, the Higher Hotel Institute, the Police Academy, the Mediterranean Institute of Management, the Public Health Inspectors School and the Tourist Guides School. The existence of all these universities and colleges, according the population of the island, indicate that Cyprus is becoming a peripheral educational center, chosen by students from the British Commonwealth and the Middle East. The council of Ministers decided to proceed with the establishment of the University of Applied Sciences and Art. During the last years the establishment and operation of the Open University of Cyprus is a fact, offering a second chance to people who want to enhance their skills on their field of practice.

Special Education
The policy of the government is to encourage and support the integration of children with special needs into the ordinary educational system and provide them with the opportunity to grow and learn together with their "non-handicapped" peers, as indicated by the principles of the Inclusive Education. In the case of children with more severe needs, their social integration is supported by extra educational help offered by special or support teachers, who are assigned to ordinary schools. Pre-primary hearing impaired and autistic children are also partially integrated through their placement in special units attached to kindergartens and primary schools, with part-time attendance of the ordinary class programme. Special schools are hosting only children with severe mental, physical and emotional problems as the government considers important the provision of equal educational opportunities to each child.

Benefits of the Educational System
Transition from the Primary Education to the next level in the public sector of Secondary Education (General and Technical) is very smooth as there are no entrance examinations. There are, however, state examinations for entrance to public tertiary level institutions, which tend to be highly competitive.
2) Assessment in Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Level institutions is mostly continuous. In the primary sector repeating the same class is only confined to very special cases, but in the secondary sector, if a pupil has low grades has to pass through an examination and by failing it, should repeat the class. Since 1991, the final examinations in the third and final class of Lyceum are externally organised. The papers are set by teams of inspectors and the pupils' unidentifiable scripts are marked by teachers teaching in schools other than their own.
3) Curricula for public Pre-primary, Primary, Secondary (general and technical) schools are prescribed by the Ministry of Education and Culture and developed on the basis of suggestions made by teachers, inspectors and parents.
4) The Government aims to link education with the economy of the country and contemporary life, therefore is in gradually updating the curricula, the supporting equipment and materials and also the textbooks.
5) The buildings are in a very good condition and are fully equipped to cater the needs of each lesson and the needs of the pupils.
6) Public Institutions provide free education in all levels.

Education is considered to be very important in Cyprus, mostly because of the lack in resources that have lead Cyprus to invest in the development of the Human Resources. Therefore further improvement of the system, according to the contemporary accomplishments of the Pedagogical Science, is in the plans of the Government.

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