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School teachers in north blocking inspectors

Classroom inside the Rizokarpaso school
File photo: a classroom inside the Rizokarpaso school

Greek Cypriots working in schools in Rizokarpaso have blocked education ministry inspectors, it emerged on Tuesday, after reports suggested that the ‘authorities’ in the north had been blocking the inspectors.

Last week, a report said the inspectors were blocked from checking on Greek Cypriot schools in Rizokarpaso, and that the order had most likely come from the north’s ‘foreign minister’ Tahsin Ertugruloglu.

However, it has now emerged that there is also a group of Greek Cypriots at the schools who are not in favour of frequent checks.

The issue, as daily Politis reported, started a few months ago, when inspectors from the school board went to the gymnasium in Rizokarpaso, and noted some changes that need to be undertaken.

Going back to inspect if the changes were made, the school informed them that they would need to get the permission of the ‘foreign ministry’ to come and inspect again.

However, the north’s ‘foreign ministry’ does seem to be blocking access to ministry officials, saying that a request needs to be filed by the Republic’s foreign ministry to the UN for the officials to visit.

This opinion is being quietly supported by some teachers at the school, Politis reported on Tuesday.

Since the block on inspectors has been imposed, maintenance works at the schools have been effectively put on hold.

The north’s ‘authorities’ are also checking all the books that come into the schools and have in the past banned history and English books.

The books are checked by the north and approved for use for two years. If a book is not approved or there is problem, it might have some pages removed, and teachers have to work around it.

Speaking about the issue last week, Education Minister Athena Michaelidou said, “We have been aware of the issue for some time now, and any officer [of the ministry] is being blocked from going to the occupied areas.”

She added that anyone involved in evaluating or training the teachers is being blocked, causing problems. The issue is being handled by the foreign ministry, she said.

It was earlier revealed that inspectors were being blocked from going to the north since June, stemming from a decision by Ertugruloglu.

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