By Gina Agapiou
About seven weeks after e-learning was launched in state schools, one final year lyceum student and his mother question whether it has provided anything like a proper preparation for the exams that await him.
Schools for final year students like Iacovos Demetriou are expected to re-open on May 11, just a week before the original schedule for Pancyprian examinations which will land them a place to a university in Cyprus or Greece.
Demetriou is concerned since no specific announcement was made by the ministry regarding the examined material or dates of the exams.
“I feel frustrated that I don’t know when and what I will be examined on,” he told the Sunday Mail.
The 18-year-old aspiring mechanical engineer said some of his peers already started studying what they assume will be in the exams, however no one is sure about what they are supposed to be focusing on. “It makes you feel like you don’t want to do anything,” he said.
But Demetriou was surprised state education provided them with distance learning, even in non-ideal conditions.
“I didn’t expect to have distance learning,” he said. “At the beginning it wasn’t organised at all. We officially started two or three weeks after schools actually closed.”
During the first weeks, it was up to the teachers to find ways to keep in contact with their students, before the ministry gave further instructions for lessons to take place using Microsoft Teams.
Being at home offers many distractions to young minds. Unlimited wifi access is difficult to resist and having to concentrate on a small screen for a full hour is challenging.
“It’s a bit strange as it is something we are not used to do and it’s harder to concentrate,” he said.
From Monday, high school students started lessons at 10am to 12.15pm with a 15-minute break. They are having four 30-minute lessons per day.
Iacovos’ mother, Catherine Demetriou, who has two children in state education said she had been very disappointed with the lack of organisation.
“I have been a supporter of state education in Cyprus,” she said, before adding that she was angry over the way distance learning is taking place. “I am appalled by this latest decision to do lessons only two hours a day.”
She said she had no sympathy with teachers who only work up to12 full hours per week and fail to care for their students.
“The other day the computer science teacher of my younger son gave a ten-minute lesson and then asked for questions,” she said.
“The minister of education should look like a person who is in control of the situation and he does not.”
Children should know when they will sit the final exams and what they will entail.
“He needs to make a decision and announce it, so the kids know what is going on.”