By Evie Andreou
Any student who abstains from classes will receive an unauthorised absence the education ministry said on Tuesday as secondary school students refused to go to class for one period.
The walk out, lead by student body PSEM, is the first step demanding further aid measures for students of state schools.
PSEM said in an announcement that despite state school being free the cost for each student averages at around €2,500 to €3,000 per year, taking in the cost of school meals, enrolment fees, examination fees, clothing, stationary, participation in field trips, private lessons and bus fares.
“We demand the obvious, which is free education and the minister’s answer was not as helpful as his announcement says,” said PSEM leader Loizos Kyriakides said.
He added that even though PSEM met education minister Costas Kadis two weeks ago and presented him with five proposals on the reduction of costs for all students, they were told there was not much he could do and have received no formal answer to their demands.
One of their demands is the reduction of the €50 enrolment fee for students paid each year.
On Tuesday the ministry called the abandonment of lessons unnecessary and said that improvements of the educational system will not come through absence but through active participation.
“By calling students to abstain from their classes with the justification of the high cost parents face for their children’s schooling, PSEM shows that they ignore the measures the education ministry has implemented for the support of vulnerable groups,” a ministry announcement said.
“What we said was that we will look into their proposals but we look into the implementation of some measures targeted and not as a whole; the measures will cover the needs of the truly vulnerable groups of the population,” Kadis said.
He said the move was inexcusable especially in a period when his ministry is making huge efforts so that all needy students receive free schooling and they also managed to offer these students, among others, free transportation to school.
The measure was not supported by all students however, as DISY’s student organisation Mathitiki Kinisi (MAKI) announced that they would not participate in the demonstration, which they said serves micro-political interests and even though it was announced by PSEM, it was not decided by any of its collective bodies.