By Peter Stevenson
EDUCATION Minister Kyriacos Kenevezos has called on private schools to reduce tuition fees in light of current crisis, or at the very least not to impose a 1.4 per cent increase which they are legally entitled to.
Kenevezos was replying to a question from the chairman of the House Education Committee Nicos Tornaritis who had asked in April what measures the ministry was going to take regarding calls from parents associations to reduce fees.
“The Education Ministry has been concerned with private education at secondary schools for the last few years and we have contacted the Pancyprian federation of parent and guardians association of private schools and private school representatives in order to resolve the existing financial problems,” Kenevezos said in his written reply.
Kenevezos added that the education ministry has held continued discussions with parents associations and schools and has sent out circulars to schools giving guidelines about possible fees and other charges.
“In the latest circular which was sent on February 22, we set 1.4 per cent as the highest possible increase in tuition fees for the 2013-14 academic year,” he said.
Following the events in March of this year and the resulting financial problems, the minister met with private school owners and called on them to reduce their tuition fees.
Kenevezos added that the ministry is looking at revising existing legislation regarding the issue of the supervisory role to be played by the Education Ministry to determine the tuition fees and other charges imposed by private schools.
The minister said that the ministry was looking at ways to modernise the already existing law regarding private schools which was had originally been established in 1971 and last reviewed in 2008.
“Following a number of meetings with all the relevant and involved parties we have drawn up new legislation which is in the final stages of being completed and sent to legal services to be approved,” he said.
Kenevezos added that the ministry and the House were both still looking into admitting private school graduates into Cyprus’ state universities on the basis of internationally recognised exams.
The Education Minister said that funding would continue in various subjects at private schools to provide students with equal opportunities.
The funding for computers will continue at private schools as well as awards for students who take part in contests.
Teachers from both private and public schools will take part in the same educational seminars organised by the ministry regarding new teaching methods and changes to the curriculum.
Kenevezos added that a department for private education will not be created at the ministry despite calls from parents associations as there is insufficient personnel and the government cannot fill new positions that could be created as there is a freeze on public sector recruitment.
“Complaints relating to the increase in taxes are difficult to deal with as we are attempting to reduce costs and increase revenue,” Kenevezos added.