Cabinet on Thursday agreed to offer subsidies aimed at boosting internet connectivity speeds, to expand a pilot programme in education for full-day schools and increase the state funds for de minimis aid.
Chaired by President Nicos Anastasiades, the ministers agreed to increase the 2023 de minimis budget by 12 per cent, reaching €17.7 million. This is in line with a continuing increase as the amount was €15.8m in 2022 and €12.7m in 2021.
Deputy government spokeswoman Niovi Parisinou said last year, 163 departments and 288 programmes were funded through the budget, of which 120 were children’s daycare centres, nurseries and other projects targeting children.
Cabinet also approved the ‘funding connectivity scheme’ aiming to meet demand for faster internet. The scheme covers the set-up cost and part of the monthly subscription prices for a year for broadband speeds of at least 200Mbps. The government will cover up to €120 per internet connection for one year.
Beneficiaries are those who are setting up an internet connection for the first time or seeking to increase their broadband speed which should be less than 100Mbps connected to services of at least 200 Mbps, regardless of technology.
The scheme covers beneficiaries living in the Republic of Cyprus with funding stemming from the recovery and resiliency plan amounting to €10m with the option of an extra €2m if requested from the government. The scheme will be in place until mid 2025, as part of the Cyprus-Tomorrow plan.
In the education sphere, Cabinet decided to gradually extend the pilot scheme for full-day high schools across all districts in Cyprus. It was first decided to be rolled out in the Pancyprian Nicosia high school and the Lanitio in Limassol on October 12, 2022 as a pilot scheme and “due to its success and positive results” it will be rolled out based on the Nicosia model.
Additionally, ministers also decided to roll out an interdisciplinary full-day school with two possible directions: STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics) as well as Greek language and culture. This will be available in one high school in every city, starting in the 2023-2024 academic year.
The school will offer the same classes as regular high schools but in the afternoon will allow students to give more emphasis on the two tracks available. It will be project-based learning, Parisinou explained.
According to Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou, Cabinet also rubberstamped the creation of an education, research and innovation center in Athalassa, where the Franco Cypriot School, the Cyprus Institute and the adjacent Agricultural Research Institute will be integrated.
Lastly, the ministers jointly agreed to set up an evaluation centre for special education aiming to overcome a number of operational issues the government has observed on a district level. The bill will head to parliament and a detailed announcement will follow, Prodromou said.