By Achilleas Demetriades
The new generation is facing huge changes, at home and abroad. In an ever-changing world, it becomes more imperative to answer the following questions: Is education at the level we all wish it to be? Are schools in a position to meet today’s challenges?
Over time, we have heard different replies to the question about the kind of education that we need. Many announcements have been made but the changes that have been introduced in education have not yielded the anticipated results.
My position is that the only way, the only answer to how to expedite the changes our country needs is progressive reform in our education. However, what are the main elements of such a reform?
The times we live in have created new demands in terms of the content of education as well as teaching and learning methods. But the fast expansion of new technologies and our EU membership also offer big new possibilities and a wide spectrum of careers for the young generation, thanks to freedom of movement, educational opportunities, new types of employment, working from home and remote education.
Our young people need aptitudes which will help them develop skills to be happy and have a career in an environment without borders. Society today demands critical thinking as opposed to learning by heart and assimilating information which is readily available. Consequently, a student with multiple skills is one who has the ability to adapt, process knowledge and apply this knowledge in practice. Such a student, as he or she grows older, will be able to advance development. Being subjected to exams every four months cannot be the way to progress towards these goals.
Technological advancement, automation and digitalisation are constantly changing market demands and the needs of society. Most jobs evolve and demand continuous training. Many posts are abolished. New fields of professional expertise open up and create prospects.
I propose progressive reform in order to link technology with humanistic education and combine our cultural identity with the achievements of the international community. The content of educational programmes must support the principles of equality, tolerance, dialogue and empathy through the development of students’ critical ability. Moreover, we should start early, that is why I support the upgrading of education in kindergartens as well as pre-primary school children.
Day-long schooling would provide positive answers to many of today’s ‘pending issues’, such as assimilating school material better, limiting private lessons, supporting weaker students as well as facilitating working parents. This is why we need to develop day-long schooling fast. We all recognise how important it is but we cannot be satisfied with its implementation so far.
We also need to think about beginning a dialogue with higher education institutions in the country with the aim of introducing foundation courses in tertiary education. Such a move will have two benefits: students will no longer be stressed out about entrance exams and it will help bridge the gaps students face.
At the same time, we also have to think about utilising school facilities when schools are closed in a more effective way. Sports installations for example are a kind of idle wealth when they are not being used. During the afternoons, communities, associations, different groups or individuals could have access to them for their own activities.
The progressive reform of our education system is a long overdue demand put forward by society. Parents provide their children with all available means to give them the opportunity to receive an education. Additionally, the state makes a huge investment. However, the end result is not satisfactory.
We need political will, a plan, decisiveness and people who inspire and believe that we can actually implement this reform.
Progressive reform in education and digital transformation are the solid pillars of evolution in modern societies, which we can rely on to modernise our country.
Cyprus deserves better!
Achilleas Demetriades is a partner at the Lellos P Demetriades law office LLC (https://achilleas.eu) and a presidential candidate in the 2023 elections