By Maria Gregoriou
STATE primary schools opened their doors yesterday with over 8,000 new first-graders, although overall numbers are down on last year.
During a visit at Pefkios Georgiades primary school in Nicosia’s Strovolos, education minister Kyriacos Kenevezos handed out books to second graders.
“Today belongs to the children. In these difficult times, they all need to obtain a high quality and proper education, which we must face with a smile,” Kenevezos said.
The number of students enrolled in public primary schools this year has gone down from last year. For the school year 2013-2014, some 49,079 children will attend primary school compared to 49,612 in 2012-2013. A total of 8,338 children joined the first grade this year, official at the primary education director’s office, Nicoleta Orphanidou said.
Cyprus’ fertility rate has been dropping with the latest 2011 figures of the average number of children born to women in Cyprus standing at1.4, way below the necessary 2.1 to ensure population replacement levels.
There will be 337 primary schools operating this year, compared with 340 last school year.
“This number includes a school in Rizokarpaso [in the occupied Karpas peninsula] and classes for children who are in Makarios hospital in Nicosia and in Limassol and Larnaca general hospitals,” Orphanidou said.
Nine special education schools will cater to primary school students with special needs.
During the current school year, 267 nursery schools will be running in comparison with 264 last year. A total of 11,943 children will be attending nursery school this year, compared with 11,769 from last year.
Meanwhile, the British Council Nicosia is helping students and parents directly this year by offering dozens of goody bags for children aged three to nine on a first come, first served basis.
“This is our way of celebrating the beginning of the school year. The goody bag is a blue rucksack that contains a booklet with practical tips for parents to help their children learn English,” projects coordinator at the British Council Nicosia, Sencan Yesilada said.
Other goodies in the bag include an alphabet poster, a memory stick, pens, pencils, balloons and brochures about online learning products.
Meanwhile, the state telecommunications company CyTA will be collecting stationary, school bags, notebooks, sporting goods and anything else a student may need. People can contribute items to CyTA shops island-wide until Saturday, which will be given to the Red Cross.
Secondary school students return to class today.