Prodromou: Talks about the difficult school year (Interview)
Interview of the Minister of Education
It was the second school year we lived under pandemic conditions, "but we can say with satisfaction that we did it," said the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth, Prodromos Prodromou, in an interview with the Cyprus News Agency (KYPE).
The Minister of Education also speaks in his interview with KYPE about the preparation of the new school year, about the staffing of schools, the building program, about the four months, about the all-day school, about the Pancyprian Examinations, about the suggestion of changing school hours, for the school of Tomorrow, for the evaluation of the educational work and the teachers.
Asked how he would characterize this school year, which is coming to an end, Mr. Prodromou said that "it was the second school year that we lived under pandemic conditions, but we can say with satisfaction that we succeeded".
"It was a difficult school year, but in which we kept the schools as open as possible with a physical presence and of course the effects of the pandemic exist in all areas of activity, in all of society, in all of the economy," he said.
However, he added, "in the school system and comparing what happened in other countries, especially in other Member States of the European Union, we did well."
"In general, however, we must say that Cyprus did well. The schools of Cyprus did well. "And for this reason we can now plan to return to normal life, which now that we have been deprived of it we have longed for and we have appreciated and understood how valuable it is," he noted.
Especially at school, Mr. Prodromou continued, "I see when visiting schools the big difference that is happening now that we have slowly removed masks from younger ages, but we reprogram simple, normal habits, such as visits of children outside of schools."
"Things that were deprived and now happy children are finding a normal school life together with their teachers," he noted.
New School Year Preparations
Asked how the Ministry of Education is preparing for the new school year, Mr. Prodromou said that always at the Ministry of Education, at the same time that the Services work for the completion of the school year, the preparation of the new school year begins or has begun, " because we have a plan and of course we take into account the actions, for which we must be at the right time ".
He noted that the staffing of the schools will be done in time.
In other words, he said, "in the summer the schools will be staffed, so that we can start September faster and in a school environment where everyone, the school principals, the developers, will know how to organize the year and of course parents should know that their children enter the school program without delays ".
"With timely actions and better planning, we now reach a staff of over 95%, close to 100% from September 1, all schools," he added.
At the same time, said Mr. Prodromou, in several schools projects of either expansion or upgrade or in some cases reconstruction / restoration have been completed or are currently being completed and are being delivered to operate new ones.
"The building program runs, in parallel, with the operation of the schools. So, by the beginning of September we will have a number of projects, which are being completed and are usually anti-seismic upgrade or expansion projects, -because there is a need for some schools to be expanded-, so extensions, upgrades, reconstructions and restorations are being completed in a large number of schools and other projects are starting ", he noted.
For example, Mr. Prodromou continued, the largest projects that have been implemented or are being implemented are the following: Primary School of Pallouriotissa - Earthquake Upgrading, Extension, Maintenance, Elementary School of Choletria - Extension, Primary School of Emba - Extension, Kindergarten, Kindergarten Kindergarten of Frenaros - Erection, C Kindergarten of Paphos - Erection, Larnaca Technical School - Extensions, Improvements, B Technical School of Limassol General Upgrading, Extensions, Configurations, High School of Paralimni , Annual Field High School - Extensions, Improvement of Multipurpose Room, Outdoor and Other Works, Moutagiakas Primary School, Limassol - Extension, Earthquake Upgrading, General Improvement, Latsia Primary School B, General Upgrading, General Upgrading Construction, Demolition of an Existing, Timi Primary School, Paphos (Ant seismic Upgrading and General Improvement), AD New Kindergarten of Paphos - Erection, Kindergarten Monday - Erection.
He referred to larger projects such as that of the Pancyprian High School, costing € 8 million, which is a project of total reform of the school. "The school has definitely suffered for several years, but now it is being completed within this school year. In any case, the Pancyprian High School will be ready next school year, to which a number of other innovations are being introduced ", he added.
He noted that in addition to the above, the implementation of projects worth more than € 75 million is planned, such as the following: B Primary School of Kolossi - Replacement, New Technical School of Agios Lazaros - Construction, New Technical School of Limassol - Construction, Special School of Red Cross, Limassol - Replacement, Construction, New High School of Paphos - Extensions for the conversion of the PA Primary School of Paphos to New High School of Paphos, Primary School of Anagia - General Building Upgrades, Extensions, Configurations, Primary School of Anvara, Chorakas, Configurations, Primary School of Deftera - Replacement, Primary School of Psimolofos - Replacement.
He also said that as long as health conditions "remain, at least, what we know, not to say further improve, with the start of the new school year we will be in a much, much better position than the previous school year." year ".
Answering a question about the Pancyprian Examinations, the Minister of Education said that the Pancyprian Examinations "is a process that we all know very well, is prepared in detail and with all the necessary responsibility and seriousness" and wished all the children who will be candidates good success.
"It is the first year that according to the amendments, the changes that were approved years ago in the Parliament, the Pancyprian Examinations stand out, that is, the entrance exams, that is, the exams for the completion of high school studies and the dismissal", he added.
Asked about the issue of the four months, Mr. Prodromou said that the most important thing we should expect from our schools, -not from a school year-, is the cycle of evaluations to be completed.
Referring to his recent participation in the International Education Forum in London, which is, as he said, an excellent opportunity to exchange experiences, information, he noted that a common finding and something that was emphasized by the British Minister of Education, Nadim Zahaoui, "is that we need to have a system of inclusive education adapted, but in order to adapt and to search and find and know the needs of children, areas, groups of education, we need evaluation ".
Evaluation of educational work and teachers
The Minister of Education also referred to the evaluation of the educational work and the teachers. As he said, the effort they are currently making in the Ministry is to submit the proposal of the Evaluation Plan of the educational project and the teachers to take the legislative form in cooperation with the Legal Service and then to go for approval in the Parliament.
Commenting on the fact that they are concerned that while we are still under the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, a new virus is emerging, Mr. Prodromou said that no one was waiting in Cyprus in March 2020, -otherwhere it was earlier-, that we would have this experience of the coronavirus pandemic.
"It simply came to our notice then. Of course, from the news we hear from the international scientific community there does not seem to be a similar virus or threat. Caution is always needed. "We operate on the basis of scientific knowledge," he added.
Change of school hours
Answering a question regarding the suggestion for a change of hours in schools, Mr. Prodromou said that such a discussion has taken place in the past.
"Personally, from 2020 I had suggested to open a dialogue for reflection and possibly to see if we want to make some changes. There were some views. "However, the dialogue did not proceed due to the pandemic," he said.
"Now the Chairman of the Education Committee of the Parliament, Pavlos Mylonas, has taken the initiative. I said from the beginning that we welcome the start of such a dialogue. "I understand that it is in progress," he added.
Regarding the All-Day School, the Minister of Education said that they have a program of all-day primary schools.
"Many Cypriots operate around the clock. They are increasing every year and these days we will get a proposal to the Council of Ministers to add all-day primary schools. We have more than 200 all-day municipal options. We have others that are not optional. The compulsory all-day primary schools amount to 14, while the optional ones amount to 132 in primary schools, 64 in kindergartens and 7 in special schools ", he noted.
At the same time, Mr. Prodromou continued, "we have taken an initiative from the previous school year to examine, to see in practice the all-day high school.
"A first class of all-day high school has already operated in the Pancyprian High School. This year we will have two classes. We are looking to see if we can add other high schools in other provinces. The experience was very good. "Excellent and I want to thank both the teachers and the children who trusted this pilot application and their families of course," he added.
Commenting on the need to expand the All-Day School to Pre-Primary Education, Mr. Prodromou said that the Ministry of Education should consider extending the timetable.
Asked what to expect for Tomorrow's education, the Minister of Education said that "I would tell you, perhaps copying others that Tomorrow is already here".
"Now we are in May-June 2022. In May, June 2019, if someone said that in no more than two years our schools will teach remotely through computers, everyone would look at him with a smile, but it has become a reality" , he said, clarifying at the same time that "I do not say that everything is ready and has been done".
But at the moment, speaking about Tomorrow's school, Mr. Prodromou said, "I can literally tell you that Tomorrow Cyprus is the big e-government program of the schools, which is currently in the process of being completed."
He noted that as soon as the e-government issue is completed, the innovation of e-learning classrooms will be completed, adding that according to the schedule, by the end of 2023, almost 6.600 e-learning classrooms will be available.
"Tomorrow's school will be, on the one hand, e-government and, on the other, the digital classrooms that will be implemented and that will gradually change the structure of the curricula and we have started to adapt them," he said. .
However, he said, "Tomorrow's school will be a school in which we will have a better and more effective system of evaluation, assessment and feedback, because now in all Secondary Education we will have the most reliable evaluation procedures."
As he said, it is predicted that it will be an even better school.
"A school of inclusive education for all but also a school that will offer children the element of competitiveness," he added.
The Ministry announces changes in the near future
The Minister of Education said, at the same time, that in the next period the Ministry will be able to announce some changes, as well as a legislative proposal for the Higher Education Schools, but also some innovations, "which we elaborated together with the representatives of the so-called of our tomorrow's teachers, who are going through merit-based examinations ".
"It simply came to our notice then. There are some other changes we are promoting at the moment. We have a creative period in the Ministry of Education that we study changes, not changes for the sake of change, but improving changes by clicking on findings that we have and with the same logic that we should, as I told you, see, realize and promote technological innovations ", he noted.
He also said that they should see what more they need to do for the Greek language.
"The data we have show us that we need more effort. "After 12 years, children finish school and do not know our language well enough," he concluded.