LAST OCTOBER three deputies tabled for discussion at the House education committee the teaching of literary texts by Turkish and Turkish Cypriot writers at public schools. The matter has not yet come up for discussion at the committee, but we can only guess what would happen when it does. Although deputies can do nothing about it because the school curriculum is set by the ministry of education, any such discussion is certain to spark the usual nationalist posturing and expression of patriotic outrage.
It suffices to say that the three deputies who tabled the issue are from Elam, Alliance of Citizens and Diko, ultra-nationalist parties inclined to stir hostility between the two communities, as part of their ongoing efforts to prevent a settlement. These parties also voted for the Enosis referendum amendment which gives an indication of their motives in this case as well – any discussion that would give rise to nationalist outbursts and antagonise the Turkish Cypriots is by definition a good thing.
One of the three deputies – Diko’s Panicos Leonidou – told Politis that he had second thoughts about any discussion of the matter after the crisis caused by the Enosis referendum amendment. Speaking on radio yesterday, Leonidou said that the subject was tabled for discussion after objections to the teaching of literary texts by Turks had been expressed by parents last year. Although he had no objections to the education ministry’s decision he wanted to find out what type of texts were being taught.
It defies belief that a deputy cited objections expressed by a few dozen ignorant and narrow-minded parents as justification for discussing an issue, which should never have been up for debate, at the House education committee. Why had the deputy not considered the fact that a hundred thousand parents had not expressed any objections? Why are deputies influenced by a few fanatics that make a noise instead of treating them with the contempt they deserve?
This was a straightforward matter that was not up for debate in an open and free society. No literary text taught at our schools should be subject to parliamentary scrutiny because it was written by a Turk or a Turkish Cypriot. If there were parents who did not approve of such texts, they should take their children out of the public schools (hopefully the church schools will soon open and accept the children of fanatics) instead of demanding that texts were removed from the curriculum.
It is understandable that an Elam deputy would have made an issue of this matter as his party does not approve of liberal values in education, but what is the excuse for the deputies of the other parties?