Cyprus Mail

Agreement close in school literacy programme dispute


THREATENED strike action by secondary school teachers appears to have been averted after Education Minister Costas Kadis compromised on his earlier decision to overhaul a programme for high-school pupils lagging behind in basic literacy skills.

Although initially the bone of contention for the secondary school teachers had been the very few new jobs opened by the government this year – 23 out of a total of 200 new teaching posts – their discontent was promptly addressed by the cabinet, which opened more posts in secondary education.

But the decision to consign the ‘literacy’ programme, a booster-course for high-school pupils arriving from primary school with literacy deficiencies, to the afternoon hours, which teachers claim would render it all but scrapped, became the teachers’ next casus belli.

After a meeting between secondary teachers’ union OELMEK and Kadis on Monday afternoon, however, unrest in schools appeared to have been averted, just days before schools open for the new year.

Union boss Demetris Taliadoros outlined to state broadcaster CyBC a compromise proposal by Kadis that called for two hours of the literacy programme per week to remain in the morning periods.

“We’ll take it to the [union’s] board of directors on Wednesday,” he said, careful to avoid the combative stance and inflammatory language from earlier this month.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the education ministry announced that Kadis is in the process of holding a barrage of meetings and contacts, as part of preparations for the new school year.

“Mr Kadis has met with the principals of all secondary schools, to whom he analysed the basic pillars of education policy for the upcoming year,” the statement said.

“Last week, the minister met secondary-school inspectors with the same agenda, and he plans to do the same with their primary education counterparts.”

Additionally, it was announced, on Monday Kadis chaired a briefing attended by all ministry directorates and departments involved with the goal of a smooth start to the new school year.

“With regard to technical infrastructure issues, the minister was briefed on Monday by the education ministry’s technical services, and was informed of the progress of works done in schools at a cost of €62 million,” the statement said.

“In the coming days, the minister will visit schools undergoing such improvements in all cities.”

On the issue of the timely dispatch of books and materials to schools, the minister “had the opportunity to attend a meeting in the education ministry’s warehouse last Saturday and was briefed by officials”.

“Thus far, 90 per cent of books have been sent to all school units, and the rest is expected to be in place by the start of lessons,” the statement added.

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