By Bejay Browne
PARENTS prevented the commencement of a merger of two Paphos schools on Monday, angered by the ministry of education’s decision last week to close the old Nikolaideio gymnasium and merge it with their school, despite other better alternatives being proposed.
Parents of students attending Kykkos lyceum reacted strongly to the latest move and occupied the building, blocking the entrance to the school.
Andreas Maratheftis, president of the association of Kykkos school parents, told the Cyprus Mail that they were left feeling angry and frustrated over the latest decision and that proposed alternatives hadn’t been seriously considered.
“We closed the school today to avoid any steps being taken. This is a bad decision and we vehemently oppose it,” he said.
Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas, parents, pupils and other officials have been fighting to keep a school in the centre of the town.
Last week, the ministry announced the Nikolaideio gymnasium’s closure and its merger with Kykkos lyceum was the best solution to the current situation. Other alternatives had been closely examined, but weren’t deemed as suitable, it said. It added that the decision was based purely on what was best for the children.
But Maria Zavrou, the head of the Paphos schools’ committee, said they and other relevant bodies remained firm: “We believe this move is a bad choice for Paphos as we need a school to remain in the centre of the town. This decision is not acceptable.”
She noted that all of the concerned parties would push for the ministry to rethink its decision.
Prior to the decision, mayor Vergas had said that parents and pupils had proposed to the ministry that the Nikolaideio leave the current building as it was dangerous, a new building to house the Nikolaideio should be built in the centre of Paphos and that the Kykkos lyceum should remain open.
But an official statement from the ministry said that as of the next academic year (2014-2015) pupils at the stricken gymnasium would be relocated to the Kykkos lyceum for the next two years.
Vergas told the Mail: “I believe that the ministry is moving too fast and there is a need to study further suggestions which would enable us to keep both open as separate schools.”
The mayor said he may suggest that as the old police station in the centre of the town would soon be defunct – there is a new one which is already operational – parts of this building, which is close to the Nikolaideio school, could be used for classrooms until a more permanent solution was found.
“I may ask that this suggestion be reconsidered,” he said.
The situation will be brought before a parliamentary meeting on Tuesday, which Vergas says he hopes the minister will attend.
The fate of the Nikolaideio gymnasium has hung in the balance for over a decade. In 2004, the ministry of education suggested that the school merge with Kykkos lyceum, an idea which was vehemently opposed by parents and teachers.
Due to strong arguments against the proposal the subject was put on hold.