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CyprusEducation

Government defends fast-tracking new teacher appointment system

By Evie Andreou

For every year of delay in the implementation of an updated teacher appointment system, students lose the right to better quality education, deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said on Wednesday.

Papadopoulos was answering opposition party AKEL’s criticism on what was considered by AKEL as a hurried decision to pass the bill on the new teachers’ appointment system, which was approved on Wednesday by the cabinet but is close to parliament’s summer recess giving deputies a short window to green-light it.

“It is unacceptable, that the House is expected to vote such an important issue within a week, when it took the government more than a year and a half to take a final stand. Do they want to lead us to new stopgap decisions which will victimise education again?” AKEL’s Christos Christofides said.

Christofides also said education ministry was “giving false hope” that all teachers would keep their jobs.

“AKEL will study the government proposal with due responsibility and seriousness …but will not be dragged into quick shoddy procedures which will lead to negative results,” Christofides said.

Following AKEL deputy George Georgiou’s statements on Tuesday in which he had characterised the government’s hurry to have the bill passed as “suspicious”, Papadopoulos welcomed AKEL’s new position on Wednesday to scrutinise the bill and express their opinion.

“We hope that … AKEL will recognise that for every year of delay in the implementation of an updated teacher appointment system, students lose the right to better quality education and qualified scientists lose the right to claim a post in the pubic education sector,” Papadopoulos said.

As soon as the House votes the bill, a transition period will begin until 2018, Education Minister Costas Kadis said, which will lead to the permanent appointment of hundreds of teachers who are now employed as substitutes.

According to the bill, between 2018 and 2022, some 50 per cent of vacant teaching posts will be filled using the old system with the remaining 50 per cent filled using the new system, based on merit, experience and academic qualifications.

The first exams for the new system based on merit points will be carried out in 2017, and candidates, which will take exams according to the subject they teach based on the education ministry’s curricula, will be placed on the new appointment lists.

During the transition period, candidates will have the opportunity to sign up in both lists, under the old and new system.

Merit points will be calculated in a way not to disadvantage older graduates and to give opportunities to young graduates with excellent records, Papadopoulos said.

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