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Coronavirus: Private institutes join protest over school closures (updated)

Schools 13
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The private tutorial association (SIFK) on Friday expressed concern over the decision of the education minister to close private institutes in Limassol and Paphos and allow teaching only online.

Their statements echoed the fears voiced by the confederation of secondary school parents who on Thursday slammed the decision to also move lyceum classes online in the two districts as creating two categories of students in Cyprus.

In its announcement, SIFK said it is particularly concerned with students in the third grade of lyceum, saying this is an “unfair decision, which creates unequal treatment in relation to the other senior students.”

SIFK also called on the ministry to assume its responsibilities and punish those who illegally continue with lessons in places which have no permit without taking the necessary measures, endangering themselves and the students.

They asked the ministry to “finally fight against shadow education at its root, that is, the delivery of private lessons by those who do not have the relevant licence, are paid ‘black’ money and systematically violate the provisions of the penal code.”

Students’ union Psem also questioned the ministry’s decision and commented on the lack of preparation for the smooth transition to remote teaching.

“Do all students have internet access? Are they all equipped, as they should have been long ago, with the technological equipment?” Psem asked.

The union reiterated the need for the revaluation of teaching and exam material, especially for the Pancyprian exams, as well as the postponement of the twice yearly exams this year due to the pandemic.

The Mayor of Polis Chrysochous Giotis Papachristofi also commented on the closure of the schools on Friday, reacting to complaints expressed by parents of students of the Polis lyceum.

The parents said they protested the measure since there are now few coronavirus cases in the area.

“The parents are worried about the fact that their children will have to compete with children who are taught in their classes in the Pancyprian exams, while they will have to do their lessons online,” the mayor said.

The situation was very different just a few weeks ago. Parents at the same school in October urged their children to stay home and asked the education ministry to close the lyceum because they were worried about them being infected.

On October 25, the presidents of the parents associations of the Polis Chrysochous gymnasium, lyceum and technical school, all housed in the same building, urged parents to keep their children at home as there were so many cases at the schools.

At the time, the ministry replied schools should remain open and only a number of students who had come in close contact with infected cases should stay at home.

A total of 8,850 pupils in 24 schools in Limassol and Paphos will remain at home as of Monday as part of stricter restrictions designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the two districts and prevent it from rising in the rest of the island.

Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou on Thursday rejected comments by parents that the remote regime would create inequalities in learning, saying it was the virus that created these inequalities.

 

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