The length of the school day and the educational curriculum for kindergartens, primary, secondary and technical vocational schools was once again the focal point of discussions by lawmakers during the House education committee session on Wednesday.

The discussion comes in light of plans to create all-day schools.

In his statements after the session, committee chairman, Pavlos Mylonas, said he still believes that the severe problems faced by public education as a whole are not being addressed in the way that some people argue should be dealt with.

Mylonas said studies by US and UK universities have shown that productivity of children and teachers during the very early morning hours is poor.

Meanwhile, Disy MP, George Karoullas repeated the party message for the need to modernise the system to allow for children’s creativity to come into the mix.

“We reaffirm our firm political position that our education system as a living organism must be modernised and reformed on the basis of a vision and a specific strategy always focused on the child in order to be able to respond creatively and successfully to the competitive conditions of our changing society,” he said.

Opposition Akel stuck to its guns regarding the need to move away from a purely exam-oriented teaching system.

“When we have a purely exam-oriented system and our children all run like robots all day, they are stressed, they lose the love for learning,” said Akel MP Christos Christofides.

Christofides also highlighted an issue regarding the lack of available places for students wanting to take the technical route.

“When many children, hundreds of children want to go to technical education and are rejected, because there are no places and these children instead of going to become car mechanics, hairdressers or follow what they want, we send them to high school. The result is that these children are in a classroom, on a course that they themselves and we know that they are not interested in, and of course a series of problems are created,” Christofides said.

Edek MP, Andreas Apostolou, spoke in favour of longer school hours.

“What we consider that our education system needs at the moment, but mainly the families, who work late, is to improve and to expand the institution of optional full-time schools in pre-primary, primary and secondary schools, so that parents working in the private sector can ensure their children have a quality meal and care, are able to complete their homework.”

Apostolou said the committee also discussed the need to extend pre-primary education from the age of four years old and highlighted the fact that a more comprehensive nursery school system is needed.

Meanwhile, in a memo regarding school hours, the Pancyprian Equality Union said that they believe that the proposed changes will affect or even, possibly shake the daily life of students, their parents and employees in the public and wider public sector as well as the private sector and the educational officials, who are the directly affected employees.

“Working hours are an essential condition of employment and cannot be changed unilaterally without the consent of the affected workers,” the union added.