By Peter Stevenson
PUPILS from the primary school in Kato Pyrgos Tylliria protested for a third day yesterday by not entering their classes.
All 50 children, with the support of their parents refused to enter their classrooms in protest following the education ministry’s decision not to increase teaching staff
Monday was the first day children were due back at school for the new academic year.
Both the head of the local council Costas Michaelides and head of the schools parent association Nicos Cleanthous were in discussions on Monday and Tuesday with the ministry in their attempts to find a solution.
Parents claim the ministry made promises last year that there would be at least six teachers at the school regardless of the amount of children. There are currently three full time teachers, with the headmaster and another teacher working part time.
During an emergency general meeting on Tuesday night two suggestions were made, Cleanthous revealed. The first was that pupils would return to classes with efforts to continue to bring one more teacher to the school and the second that the protests would continue.
It was unanimously decided that the protest would continue.
Cleanthous’ last plea towards the education ministry according to reports was for the same number of teachers to remain at school while one teacher would see their working hours increased from 19 to 29 hours and another from 12 hours to 29 hours a week to meet requirements.
“The pupils will not return to their classrooms until the agreement made in September 2011 is kept,” Cleanthous said, adding “the school will remain shut”.
The September 2011 agreement stipulated that the ministry would keep five full-time teachers, one part-time teacher and a school head at the Kato Pyrgos primary school regardless of how many children attended, the head of the parents association said.
The parents association and pupils were due outside the education ministry in Nicosia on Monday but following the protest was postponed.
Cleanthous called on the ministry to show compassion, towards both students and their parents and all the difficulties they have to go through because they decided to stay in the most remote area on the island.
Students and parents also protested outside the Yiannakis Taliotis high-school in Yeroskipou yesterday after Ancient Greek, Latin and Architectural Design were removed from the subject list.
The parents association and local authorities said they feel that the decision by the education ministry not to increase the number of teachers at the school is leading to its shrinkage. Students from Yeroskipou and 17 other communities east of Paphos are all enrolled at the school.
While the school in Yeroskipou is shrinking, with numbers believed to have decreased by 100 over the last two years, more than 750 students are now enrolled in some of Paphos’ public high schools.
“Those subjects are requisites for the Pancyprian exams for students who want to study at higher educational institutes on the island,” head of the parents association Georgia Charalambidou said. She added that she hopes the education ministry takes their demands into consideration.