President Nicos Anastasiades on Tuesday said the state and teachers shared equal responsibility for the two-day strike at schools across the island, which was the result of dispute that started in July and is not yet close to being resolved.
In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, Anastasiades expressed regret over the strike, adding that it could have been avoided.
“I do not want to blame one party,” he told CNA. “This is not the way you tackle serious problems. But we must all realise that the conveyor of knowledge to a child bears as much responsibility as the state may possibly have.”
Public school teachers are holding a two-day strike on Tuesday and Wednesday over a dispute regarding the terms of their employment.
The government and state teachers have been in talks on-and-off since July, after the cabinet took certain decisions that irked educators across the board.
“It could have been avoided if what was agreed with the union leaders in three instances, on August 23 and 27, and September 6, were adopted,” Anastasiades said.
Though both sides agree that poor infrastructure, teacher assessments, health and safety and others, are the main problems faced by schools, they have been mostly bogged down in discussions concerning teaching hour exemptions, lump sums paid upon retirement, and whether union brass should be allowed to deal with their organisation’s business during working hours.
Anastasiades said rationalising class time is vital, as pointed out by international organisations, but it should not be the only matter on the table.
“It is also the evaluation of education and the criteria, the teachers’ assessment, the pupils’ assessment, special education, there are numerous issues that concern the transmission of knowledge so as to attain a common vision,” he said.
The president said he was certain the crisis would be overcome at some point because society and the teachers understood there are many things wrong, including certain employment terms that developed into privileges that cannot be justified.