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Cyprus Education

Teachers demands involve more hirings and yet more money, minister says

Education Minister Costas Kadis

Every demand made by primary school teachers’ union POED means hiring more people and increasing the state education budget, Minister Costas Kadis said on Friday.

Commenting on primary teachers’ union POED’s announcement that there could be strike measures as part of a bid to push their demands, Kadis said there was no magic wand to solve the problems in the sector.

On Thursday POED members, following a secret ballot, authorised their leadership to act, due to the education ministry’s ‘lack of will’ to address their many demands despite an ongoing dialogue. POED leadership is expected to convene next week to decide its next course of action.

Teachers stress the necessity “to support children that exhibit increased learning disabilities in Greek and mathematics, and the prevention and management of delinquent behaviour, as early as pre-school education”. They also call for “appropriate support” for special-needs children.

In addition, they are asking for increased administrative time for elementary, kindergarten, and special schools’ management teams, with a simultaneous reduction of their teaching time for more “efficient administration and management of daily tasks”.

“We are still experiencing the consequences of the economic crisis, but POED puts forward dated demands, and they want them satisfied here and now,” Kadis said.

He said that he realises the problems teachers face and has no intention of sweeping them under the rug, but that he has a different approach than POED.

“We suggested appointing assistant teachers in the classes where there are many children with learning disabilities (in Greek and Mathematics) by buying the services of unemployed teachers to utilise European programmes, but they (POED) disagree. They say this must be made through permanent posts,” Kadis said. For every demand POED puts forward, he said, it means hiring people and increasing the budget.

The aim, he said, is to tackle the problems but without increasing the budget.

What POED needs to understand is that there are restrictions as to what the state can do as to their demands, Kadis said.

“If we put the best interest of the children above all, then (POED) shouldn’t have such approaches,” he said.

He added that he was open to dialogue but that he doesn’t take kindly to threats.

The head of POED Filios Fykaktou expressed disappointment on Kadis’ comments, as he said he is trying to convince the public that all the union wants it to secure more teaching posts.

“This does not reflect reality,” Fylaktou said.  “How much more dialogue should we do for the ministry to be convinced about two or three basic issues which are serious pathogenies of our educational system, especially the primary?”

The Audit Office recently slammed teachers for the perks they have that cost the state millions each year.

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