Parents and students from two schools in Limassol have given the education ministry an ultimatum: respond to our requests over exams by Friday or we will shut down the schools.

The deadline comes as part of an ongoing spat with the education ministry over introduction of twice-yearly exams, which parents, students and teaching unions oppose. Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou antagonized these groups earlier this week when he defended the twice-yearly exams.

Both students and their parents are now also claiming the curriculum is overloaded with too much material to study for, insisting this would effectively translate into cramming a huge volume material into lessons with little time to actually learn.

In a letter to the minister on Monday, parents associations of Limassol’s Lanition school and Apostolos Petrou kai Pavlou school called on Prodromou to adapt the curriculum to the reality on the ground and significantly reduce it.

On Tuesday, students from the two schools staged a one-hour protest, abstaining from class. They had the support of parents and teachers.

“We demand that you Mr Minister, immediately give instructions to adapt the curriculum based on teaching time, so teachers can effectively teach and students can learn. What we observe is that teachers are constantly running since the beginning of the year simply to cover the material,” the letter said.

Kypros Panaretos, head of the Lanitio parents’ association, noted that there had been no response to the letter with the demands sent on Monday and warned:

“We will wait until Friday. Students are currently being taught normally. After that though, we shut everything down.”

The parents’ associations say students in their final year are being taught the same curriculum that was delivered in 2017-2018 but at the time, there were no exams twice a year.

Additionally, last year, students were studying under Covid conditions, where the teaching material had been reduced. This year with things in full swing, it is way too much for students, the associations pointed out.

As a result, teachers are scrambling to cover the teaching material with little time to actually teach. “Our children are not lab rats, they have hopes and dreams,” the letter said.

Akel called the education ministry’s policy an abject failure and a pedagogical crime.

The two associations are holding meetings to decide their next steps and hinted more schools may join their protest and adopt measures.