Education Minister Athena Michaelidou on Monday outlined her priorities for the next school year.

She said her ministry aims to create an education system “through which citizens with skills, who are responsible, who have a democratic ethos and a historical identity and a respect for diversity will be formed.

Citizens who will be able to face the challenges of the future and contribute creatively to the development of society.”

With this in mind, she said her ministry has set as its priority “the transition to a modern, human-centred, and inclusive school, which will cultivate abilities, skills, and knowledge, with the ultimate goal of substantially improving learning outcomes.”

The policies to create the school environment in question have been divided into six “pillars”: educational policies, human resources, administrative structures and infrastructure, higher and lifelong education, sports, and youth.

One of the standout policies, she said, was the implementation of a new assessment system, which abolished midterm examinations in all subjects in secondary education.

This, she said, “achieves, among other things, a reduction in the number of exams, an increase in teaching time, a reduction of student anxiety, a further emphasis on creativity, and the introduction of multiple forms of assessment.”

She also touched on the matter of all-day schooling, which has been rolled out in a number of schools across the country.

Additionally, she spoke about upgrades to technical schools and post-high school vocational training institutes.

“A total of 32 educational programmes have now been implemented, of which seven are brand new,” she said.

She said the government now intends to “start a dialogue” with the aim of upgrading higher education “through further internationalisation, modernisation, and connection with the labour market,” as well as an increase in the number of scholarships provided by the government.

In addition, she announced a €10 million fund for the purchase of “modern equipment”, with the government set to buy 10,000 computers and 1,000 video projectors. The equipment will be used for “digital skills training”.

On the matter of pupil behaviour and attainment, she spoke of the adoption of measures aimed at dealing with issues such as violence, delinquency, and illiteracy, with particular emphasis to be placed on children of preschool age.

These measures will go hand in hand with the institutionalisation of free and compulsory education from the age of four, which is expected to be rolled out in the coming years.

Michaelidou also spoke about the “further strengthening of international collaborations”, with eight international memoranda of understanding signed with other countries.

She also announced the implementation of a pilot German language programme in middle schools and high schools, and an “action plan” for the further development of Cypriot sports.

The plan will have an “emphasis on school sports and the upgrading of sports infrastructure.”