Cyprus Mail

Biology teachers threaten action over low amount of lab time

biology lab

Secondary school biology teachers have threatened to take measures if there are no developments on their demand that the education ministry introduce changes so the subject becomes more lab-based and not so theoretical.

They said they will initially hold a protest and a two-hour work stoppage but will discuss further measures if they see no results.

The biology teachers’ branch of secondary education teachers’ union Oelmek said that though there are currently five lab-based courses in high schools, biology is not among them, at least in the lower classes of gymnasium.

“In biology, a subject where knowledge is based on experiments, pupils suffice with the laboratory demonstration by the teacher, to which they are passive recipients,” head of the biology teachers’ association Dr Andreas Sophocleous said.

“With this completely paradoxical and anti-educational process and contrary to what is happening in Europe, pupils are excluded from active participation, the acquisition of laboratory skills and experience, which will accompany them in their studies in medicine, paramedical schools, biology, chemistry and so on.”

This issue has been brought to the education ministry’s attention several times over the years, the union said, but there have been no developments. It cited an “unconstructive stance” and stalling by the ministry. The teachers pointed out that the fact that biology labs exist in schools and expensive equipment is found in them is proof that the ministry realises this is a lab-based subject. They point out, however, that this equipment due to prolonged disuse, will inevitably be rendered unusable which will be a waste of public funds.

However the teachers say usually there large numbers of pupils who are taught in a lab which makes the use of reagents and other hazardous materials dangerous. Recently, there has been a very serious accident in which a teacher was injured, they said.

Dr Sophocleous said they invited all their members to take part in a protest outside the education ministry next Monday morning but also to follow a two-hour work stoppage on May 12. He said they would discuss further measures, depending on developments on the issue although he added they are ready to continue a dialogue with the education ministry.

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