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Parents call for an end to teacher proposals for education change

By Evie Andreou

The submission of counter proposal after counter proposal on education reforms by teachers’ unions must come to an end, the head of the secondary education parents association Petros Koulermos said on Tuesday.

The association, that hailed the education ministry’s decision to modernise the educational system, is protesting against the endless dialogues between the ministry and the unions.

At the same time, it presented its own their positions and proposals on the upcoming changes in education, some of which are to be effected as of September.

According to an announcement, the association said responsibility for the way things are in education today lies with officials of the education ministry and educators, but “our responsibility is the great tolerance we showed for so many years believing that the aforementioned as experts ‘know best’”.

“The focus should be the best interest of students, and not how many working hours teachers lose,” Koulermos told the Cyprus Mail.

He added that his association has asked to see the ministry’s proposals on teachers’ evaluation and on analytical study programmes (teaching material that will be covered and methodology).

“So far the ministry gave us their proposals on timetables, appointments and training of teachers but we need the whole package to be able to express our opinion; one is linked to the other,” he said.

The parents say there is no logic in discussing timetables without at the same time adjusting the analytical programmes or discussing teacher training without having at hand their evaluation method.

We, as parents, the announcement said, want a school where upon graduation students leave with all the necessary tools for the life ahead of them.

The association is also asking for the removal of “inadequate teachers (educationally or medically)”.
“In all, we agree with the ministry’s proposals but we suggest some modifications,” Koulermos said.

According to the new appointment system, waiting lists for teachers will be abolished by 2018 and list seniority will no longer matter while successful candidates will be chosen according to teaching experience and qualifications.

The majority of substitute teachers are to be given permanent appointments within the next three years and after that, educators will be hired based on merit.

The parents association asks among others that the way degrees are evaluated needs to be clarified and that a system needs to be put in place to make sure that exams taken by teachers are fair and meritocratic.

“In the case of the training of teachers we ask that it doesn’t take place during teaching hours,” Koulermos said.

In regards to the new timetables, the association asks that the ministry considers the possibility of creating a seventh study programme dedicated to arts and asks that teaching hours of courses “that cultivate emotional intelligence, skills and body are not restricted”.

“The true and only concern is the students. We stress this because we as parents believe that this and only this should be the aim of the country’s education – education,” the announcement said.

Meanwhile, teachers whose hours are to be reduced according to the proposed timetable changes, like physical education and foreign languages, protested on Monday outside secondary teachers union OELMEK’s offices against the union’s approval of the changes.

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