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Cyprus

More unrest brewing over school bus fare

The cabinet has agreed to reduce the student monthly bus fare from EUR15 to EUR10.

By Angelos Anastasiou

THE PARENTS’ association of Cypriot technical schools has announced a number of measures in protest of the decision to impose a monthly €15 bus-fare to students wishing to use public transport.

The association is urging students to refuse paying when the system comes into effect on January 7.

The association has also decided on a number of other actions, including joining the student body PSEM in their mobilisations against the measure, suspending the practice of supplying schools with materials and other provisions, funnelling the money collected for the issue of yearbooks into other student-focused uses, boycotting school events, and declining to pay the annual field-trip fee at the start of next year.

In a letter to education minister Kyriacos Kenevezos, the association requested the exemption of technical school students from the bus-fare decision, citing the generally lower income level of their families, as well as the fact that fewer technical schools translate to greater transportation needs than the average high-school student.

The coalition of parent associations in public tertiary education – the umbrella organisation of which the technical schools’ parent association is a part – plans to discuss this matter in its scheduled session today, and will announce any on Monday.

Maria Savva, head of parents’ associations of public primary schools, has confirmed that as of November 2013 “primary education had been excluded from the bus-fare legislation.”

The decision to discontinue the provision of free transportation to students was made by the previous government in December 2012 and was initially to be implemented in October 2013. However, last April, following discussion at parliamentary committee level, it was decided to postpone the implementation of the measure until January 2014.

According to Antonis Antoniou, Paphos MP with DIKO and head of the Transportation Committee, roughly 31.500 high school students use public transport to travel to and from school at a cost of €3 million annually.

The measure allows for the continued provision of free transportation only to students whose families receive state social welfare benefits. Families with three children in high school need only bear the cost of one bus-fare for all three.

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