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‘No going back’ on teacher reforms, ministry says

Teachers protest. Photo: Christos Theodorides

The education ministry said on Thursday there was no going back, as primary teachers staged an all-day strike to protest parliament’s approval of two bills overhauling the system of appointing teachers to state schools.

“There is no return,” the ministry said in a statement. “We must all concentrate on implementing this reform so that our educators are selected on merit and who is most suitable to teach in our schools, and not on the basis of when they received their degree.”

On Wednesday, the head of the primary education teachers’ union, Filios Fylaktou, described Education Minister Costas Kadis as an enemy of education and the teachers and declared that Thursday’s planned strikes would go ahead.

Teachers assembled outside the education ministry to protest.

The ministry said it was difficult for public opinion to justify the disruption caused by Poed to schools, describing the strike as pointless since the matter cited as the cause has been resolved.

The statement said the new appointment system was the most important and biggest reform in recent years and the ministry was determined to enforce it.

The ministry rejected Poed’s claim that teachers belonging to a certain category risked losing their jobs because of the new system.

Poed says many teachers who had been working as temps for more than 30 months now faced unemployment.

The ministry said it had included favourable regulations that ensured their appointment through the new system.

Over 1,500 permanent positions were granted in the last three years so that most temporary teachers with prior service would be appointed under the current system.

The ministry said most would get a permanent job while the rest gain a significant advantage in winning a position through the new system.

As regards substitute teachers, the ministry said it was obliged to respect the decision of the Legal Service which said that their status could not be changed to ‘indefinite’.

In any case, substitutes won’t be sacked since appointments would continue with the old system until 2027.

“Poed was always hostile to the implementation of the new system since the existing system serves only those who are in line and waiting,” the ministry said. “The new system upends the state of affairs and vested interests and opens the doors of appointment to new, qualified educators who would have no prospect of employment in public schools under the current system.”

According to the ministry, in the past five years 93 teachers were appointed aged between 56 and 62, only to retire at 63.

“It is proven that Cyprus has the most anachronistic system of hiring educators in Europe and if we want to afford pupils with the best learning conditions, we are obliged to change it.”

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