A report which showed Cypriot children to have well below average competencies in mathematics, science and reading “highlights the urgent need for educational reform”, the Nicosia federation of primary schoolchildren’s parents said on Thursday.

To this end, they asked for information regarding examination systems for children and the future introduction of programmes to prevent children from falling behind in preschool education.

“We are committed to working together effectively to implement initiatives which will strengthen our educational system,” they said.

We are willing to support any initiative which will contribute to the improvement of the educational system and the achievement of higher standards of academic excellence.”

Additionally, they said they “welcome” the education ministry’s reaction to the report, in which it had said on Wednesday it was implementing “new short-term, medium-term, and long-term policies” which will be aimed at “placing more emphasis on critical thinking, creativity, and the development of our pupils’ skills”.

They added that they plan to improve the systems of examination for both students and teachers, working towards a full school day, expanding pre-primary education, and the prevention of bullying and violence in schools.

The report was released by the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), which had surveyed 15-year-old children on their competencies in mathematics, reading, and science, and graded them on their performance.

Cypriot children scored an average of 418 points in mathematics, 411 in science and 381 in reading.

These scores were drastically lower than the European Union averages, which were 472 in mathematics, 480 in science and 468 in reading respectively. Both Turkey and Greece also displayed significantly higher average scores than Cyprus in all three disciplines.

The figures also represent a continuing downward trend since Cyprus first participated in the survey in 2012.