By Annette Chrysostomou
A group of parents have launched a campaign to legalise homeschooling in Cyprus, arguing the coronavirus has proven this system was successful.
“In the past year, many children across the world have been educated outside school quite satisfactorily, with good parental support, and even got ahead of where they would have been at school, as a result of alternative education methods and resources, and the removal of school stress,” a petition said.
As they say, such a system allows parents to adopt unconventional methods of teaching children in safe, loving environments, “with support from the many resources accessible to us all.”
The idea of home schooling has been raised before, usually by foreign nationals who are unhappy with the local education system.
“The educational structure of Cyprus hasn’t changed for the last 25 years, but what has changed are the pupils of this country; there are many more ethnically divergent families of different educational backgrounds, and a notable rise in children, including those with additional needs.”
In addition, the Cyprus school system, promotes an “inclusion” and “one size fits all” format, but there is an increased need to address individual social, mental, and emotional needs, because each child has their own particularities and abilities.
Citing EU statistics, the parents said the Cypriot education system was ineffective, and taking a different route, other than the standard school system, is in the best educational interest of children.
In the past, they said, parents were shunned and looked down upon when they chose to step away from the only option that was given to them: to enroll their children in the public school system and to pay for private afternoon lessons to cover the shortfalls in the curriculum that should have been covered completely and satisfactory within the public-school realm.
The existing school system forces a child to be in learning mode for six-seven hours a day while in school and more often than not, schools fail to complete the curriculum, they said.
This leaves no other option to a vast majority of parents but to pay for private afternoon lessons to ensure their children have a chance of gaining the appropriate credentials for entry into universities or other higher educational establishments.
With the coronavirus pandemic that broke out since the spring of 2020, schools closed and classes continued with distance learning which was not properly provided by all schools since they were poorly equipped and staffed with untrained teachers.
This gave many parents a great opportunity to understand and reassess their child’s learning methods and skills development, leading them to the conclusion that a one-to-one focused and calm environment is the one which their child thrives in the most, the parents said.