Primary school teachers union Poed on Friday decided to go ahead with a demonstration outside the presidential palace to protest against the government’s plans to implement an extension of compulsory pre-primary education from the age of 4.

In an announcement, Poed said the protest will take place on Wednesday, November 23, at a time to be determined later.

At the same time, Poed’s board of directors said it has decided to proceed with general meetings of the the union’s branches, in order to authorise the organisation for dynamic response measures, in case it is needed.

Poed argued that the downward extension of the admission age to pre-primary education, from the age of four, is a permanent position of Poed, however the union does not agree with the how the government plans to implement the scheme.

“The intense disagreement of the organisation concerns the incomplete and incorrect plans submitted by the government to parliament, for the implementation of the above policy” it adds.

Therefore, “we appeal to the President of the Republic that he intervenes, to review the above plans, so as to ensure the correct implementation of the expansion of compulsory pre-primary education from the age of four, through the state school structure,” the statement continued.

At the same time, it appealed to parliamentary parties and MPs to amend the proposed legislation.

For his part, Education minister Prodromos Prodromou said the extension of free pre-primary education from the age of four is one of the proposals included in the government’s ‘Cyprus Tomorrow’ plan.

“In planning the first year of implementation, i.e. the next school year (2023-24), which concerns children between four years and six months and four years and eight months, provisions have been made to include all children in state nurseries or in community kindergartens which will be converted into state ones,” he noted.

He added that it would be appropriate to provide some additional information on the ministry’s overall planning and programming for the inclusion of all children from four years to four years and eight months in free pre-primary education using the Recovery and Resilience Plan.

The education minister added that plan have been made so that in the coming years, as far as possible, community kindergartens (kindergartens operated by Parents’ Associations) into public ones will continue to be converted into state nurseries.

In addition, a plan is being set out by the Education Ministry’s technical services so that where there is the possibility, based on local data, the facilities of public nurseries can be gradually expanded in order to increase their capacity and accept more children for schooling.

“The concern of all of us is not to let this opportunity given to us by the Recovery and Resilience Plan be lost – and to allow thousands of children between the ages of four and five to have the opportunity to study for free, from an early age, benefitting from the beneficial effect both pedagogically and in terms of socialisation – and to support more than eight thousand families – mostly young couples – with this sponsorship which in total reaches 12.2 million euros,” Prodromou concluded.