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Cyprus Education

Teacher union warns of turmoil ahead of new school year

STATE teachers in secondary education will go on strike if the education minister does not back down from his anticipated proposal to create a handful of permanent teaching jobs while cutting around 90 contract teaching jobs, secondary public-school teachers’ association OELMEK announced on Friday.

In a statement after an extraordinary board-meeting, the union placed the blame for the upcoming turmoil squarely on Education Minister Costas Kadis, who, it claimed, has “decided to give secondary education only 11.5 per cent of new jobs (23 out of 200) that it plans to ask the cabinet for on August 24, 2016”.

“As is well-known, the key reforms in education relate to high-schools and lyceums,” OELMEK said.

“Unfortunately, instead of backing the changes the education ministry – and the government – is pushing, it chooses to weaken secondary education through decisions that victimise thousands of pupils, by abolishing the literacy programme and changing the method of laboratorisation of the lessons of information technology, technology, and home economics.”

The literacy programme was introduced in public secondary schools in 2007, aiming to help boost pupils with literacy levels sub-par for their age through enhanced teaching hours.

The decisions, OELMEK argued, will drive over 90 teachers who had worked on contracts in previous years to unemployment.

“It is obvious that the education ministry has decided the above purely for financial reasons, and under the pressure and extortion of particular circles,” the union claimed.

“The responsibility for the short-staffing of secondary education lies with those who created a climate of cutbacks in education, particularly secondary education.”

Seeking allies, OELMEK challenged the parents’ Pancyprian confederation, saying it found its “failure to position itself publicly” strange.

Calling on the ministry and the government to support their own reform efforts by releasing the necessary funds, the union warned of “turmoil with the start of the new school year”, which comes next month, if Kadis doesn’t take back his decisions.

“OELMEK’s board has decided to take dynamic measures, including strike action, which will be applied progressively,” it warned.

“We hope that those who are taking things to an impasse will help, in the end, by making the right decisions, so that our schools can operate smoothly as of September 1.”

As well, the union repeated it is still expecting meetings to be set with the finance and education ministers, which it has asked for since August 10.

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