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Do you need an Apolytirion?

Sevan Bevedian

Do you need an Apolytirion?

By Annette Chrysostomou

THE Cypriot high school leaving certificate (Apolytirion) is gaining popularity as more students use it to gain entry to universities outside Cyprus and for employment at home, where it has traditionally been important to gain access to coveted jobs in the public sector.

More and more British universities accept the Apolytirion together with proof of English language proficiency because it has become more prestigious in recent years, both when given by state schools and private schools.

“Before you could choose any subject you were interested in,” Pantelitsa Michael from the British Council said about the public school certificate. “Now it has a direction and you have core subjects, which gives it more meaning.”

When it comes to the private sector, the situation is more complicated. “Some high schools award the school-leaving certificate, some don’t, and of those who do some keep very closely to the ministry’s instructions for the public schools and others are partly there,” Michael said.

Over the last two years the education ministry has taken steps so the Apolytirion issued by private schools is more meaningful.

“Before, some schools just handed out a school leaving certificate with an overall grade,” head of the private secondary school department at the ministry of education Frosso Tofaridou said. “Now, they have to have marks in at least five subjects.”

There are, she explained, three types of private schools. The first group which currently consists of six schools follow exactly the programme of the public schools, in the same language, Greek. The Apolytirion is also the same.

The second group, dubbed ‘similar’, has two-thirds the same curriculum as the state schools, but this can be in a different language, as can the leaving certificate. Around 21 belong to this type who teach in six or seven languages.

The third are ‘different’ and follow another country’s curriculum such as the Lebanese Green Hill School or Russian LITC school.

Schools from all three groups plus The English School, which operates under different rules formulated by the Cyprus government, are on the education ministry’s website where approved schools are listed. Thus, they all have permission to hand out an Apolytirion, though not all bother.

The American International school in Cyprus (AISC) is one of those who don’t think it is necessary for their students.

“Students leaving the AISC are issued an American High School University Diploma and, if they qualify, an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. Both are recognised by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The IB Diploma is the most widely recognised high school diploma in the world,” the school commented.

Others find it is useful as they at least partially cater for Cypriot students. “It is a necessity for pupils who are planning on working in Cyprus; employers always ask for an Apolytirion,” Linda Love from the International School of Paphos said. “If we did not offer the Apolytirion Cypriot pupils would definitely not attend the school; for them it is a necessary requirement.”

In the past, it was often a practice of secondary schools to hand out the certificates after year 6, when it is given to students of public schools who follow a six-year programme, and continue in year 7 preparing pupils for A levels. This is not the case anymore and students attending a school registered for the seven-year programme who leave school a year earlier will not be given the document.

Now the private schools are obliged to give them after the last year of study.

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