Statement by AKEL MP Christos Christofides after the session of the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Culture
23 November 2022
- Children’s right to compulsory public education must be fully guaranteed
On the issue of extending compulsory pre-primary education, we express our regret for the fact that the amendment tabled by AKEL, which categorically safeguarded the character of compulsory public education, was not adopted by the Parliamentary Committee on Education. Of course, this amendment will be tabled by AKEL in the plenary too.
We fully agree that compulsory, public, pre-primary education should be extended from the age of four. However, the window that the Ministry of Education is opening, for the first time, to transfer part of public compulsory education to the private sector, creates serious problems and complications.
Beyond that, it is damage management that the government will be doing if we are to be honest with ourselves and, more importantly, with citizens who are listening to us. We will continue to struggle so that the right of all children to compulsory public education is fully guaranteed. Can this be done? Of course it can, by meeting current needs, by converting community kindergartens into public kindergartens and by making use of the vacant or other classrooms that exist in our communities and schools.
- Ten years of the government’s abject failure in the field of education
Today in the Parliamentary Education Committee we also discussed the Education Ministry’s proposal to abolish the performance-based stagnation in the secondary school cycle. Once again, the Ministry of Education is bringing yet another change to our education system, single-mindedly. The government’s ten years of history is repeating itself. There is no comprehensive planning and no strategy.
We said goodbye to the Minister today because it was his last appearance before the Education Committee, and I have to say this: It is truly with aching pain that we must conclude that this government, in the area of education, has failed. It has failed because there has never been a comprehensive, progressive, democratic plan for education in this country. The government ruling forces have operated in an amateur way pursuing a “let’s see and then act” logic, based on an ideological adherence to neoliberalism simply to get measurable results. What is happening in our schools during the last few days, with the term exams, is proof of this abject failure in the field of education too.
- Government puts a brake on the developmental potential of the Open University
Regarding the budget of the Open University of Cyprus for 2023, I would like to note the following: Today the Open University authorities themselves denounced that while they submitted a budget of €13 million, necessary for the technological modernisation of a university that is primarily relies on technology, but also for the expansion of its programmes, without any justification, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance fixed this budget at €10 million, not allowing the Open University any other funding.
We consider this approach unacceptable. At the same time, of course, it raises questions: What interests and agendas are served by this very deliberate attempt by the government to keep the Open University grounded?