Schools and teachers are to blame if there are any pupils who still do not have electronic devices to follow distance learning classes, Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said on Monday.
The minister, responding to accusations that there are still pupils with no laptops or tablets after the decision to make classes in lyceums and technical schools online from Monday, said his ministry had long arranged to provide children with this equipment.
Last week, secondary education teachers’ union Oelmek had said that many pupils did not have laptops.
“When I hear that there are children with no devices, if this is true, it is the teachers to blame,” Prodromou told state broadcaster CyBC radio. He added that since the previous school year, the education ministry has made available 7,500 devices which cover almost one in 10 pupils among those who had to follow online courses and could be used for children in the most vulnerable social groups.
“If this issue has not been sorted out yet, then the school managements and teachers did not do their jobs properly,” he said.
In the last few weeks, he said, around 300 more tablets had been sent to schools.
On criticism from teachers over the decision to offer €200 to teachers to encourage them to use their own equipment for online classes, Prodromou said this was a proposal by the technical education teachers’ union Oltek and that all other unions knew about it.
He pointed out that this was a voluntary scheme and no one was forced to do it. He added that none of the unions had said anything against this proposal prior to its approval by cabinet.
On Monday, the first day that lyceums and technical schools introduced distance learning after the new measures were announced last week, some problems were observed, mainly with the internet connection, head of Oelmek Themis Polyviou said.
Other problems concerned difficulty by pupils to connect with the codes they were given, Polyviou told the Cyprus News Agency.