The education ministry said on Tuesday that air conditioning in schools was unnecessary, following a long-standing request from the parents’ association that they be installed.
Director of the technical services at the education ministry Andreas Marangos told the Cyprus Mail that air conditioning was not needed as schools are closed when it is hottest in the early afternoon, and during the summer holidays.
The ministry was against the idea of installing air conditioning in all areas of school buildings though they exist in computer labs and the headmaster’s offices, he said. It implements other measures to protect the children from too much heat.
“All new schools and new classrooms under construction have thermal insulation which means the temperature in the classroom is really pleasant, and we also install sunshades,” Marangos said.
The parents’ association however has taken the opposite view and is in contact with the education ministry in order to make it a reality, the head of the secondary-school parents association Kyriakos Nikiforou countered.
Nikiforou acknowledged the difficulties involved, which would be the high cost and the fact that the schools cannot provide enough electricity for cooling all classrooms.
On his part, Phylios Phylactou from the primary school-teachers union said there were not enough areas where children could play and exercise during their breaks.
“For us the issue is not new, we have also been involved in the education committee last year. It is a matter of safety and health and we need to include it into what needs to be done,” he said.
A 2017 Harvard University study found that temperatures in classrooms matter.
“Evidence from 4.5 million New York City high school exit exams indicates that heat exposure may affect educational performance in both the short and long run,” the author reported.
Taking an exam on a 32C day relative to a 22C day not only results in a reduction in exam performance of 4.5 per cent but also meaningfully affects longer-run educational outcomes, leading to a 12.3 per cent higher likelihood of failing a subject exam and a 2.5 per cent lower likelihood of on-time high school graduation.
“Furthermore, cumulative heat exposure over the course of the preceding school year may reduce the rate of learning as seen in exit exam scores, controlling for the short-run effect of exam day temperature,” the report went on to say.