President Nikos Christodoulides on Friday welcomed several pupils of the Makedonitissa primary school at the presidential palace ahead of the Easter period.

The pupils sang traditional Easter hymns in front of the president before being taken for a tour of the premises, including the presidential office.

On the occasion, Christodoulides said that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure a high education level for students of all ages in Cyprus, regardless of whether they attend private or public schools.

“We will upgrade the education system,” Christodoulides vowed. “Since everything starts with education, we will put more emphasis on improving it.

“We want our children to develop critical thinking in the entire educational context, not just in class.”

The president also said that his promise of increasing the number of women in the government and, more in general in public life, starts in schools.

“It is there that we should focus our efforts, in order to create a culture that inspires and enables women,” he said, adding that efforts to provide facilities to people with disabilities should also be intensified.

Asked by the children about the twice-yearly exams, Christodoulides said that they have been abolished as of next September, and that yesterday the issue went to parliament, however he added: “Another way of evaluating the students should be found,”

He said that it is good to have an exam, either in the form of research, study, etc.

On Thursday, the House education committee voted for the exams carried out in the second semester of the school year to account for 20 per cent in student’s final marks instead of 40 per cent.

The proposal was approved with 28 votes in favour, 14 against and two abstentions.

Education Minister Athena Michaelidou said that new evaluation methods are currently being studied.

“We will come out with a comprehensive proposal in May, which will be as balanced as possible,” she said.

“That said, we will not be able to satisfy everyone. That is why we will seek discussions with all stakeholders involved, namely parents, teachers and students, before formulating a proposal.

“We want to come up with a concrete plan and not something that will set us back once again,” Michaelidou concluded.