Minister of Education and Culture Andreas Demetriou Says Teaching Must Meet the Needs of all Students
Nicosia, Oct 23 - One of the most important innovations of Cyprus’s educational reform will be the reconstruction of the curriculum and this effort intends to ensure that teaching will meet the needs of all students, Cyprus Minister of Education and Culture Andreas Demetriou said, addressing the Dissemination Conference for a project carried out by the European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education on “Assessment in Inclusive Settings,” held in Limassol.
Mr. Demetriou said that “in an environment where the only factor that remains stable is change,” the government has launched an ambitious educational reform program, inviting dialogue among all stakeholders, with a view to turn into reality the vision of a better and more modern educational system that would meet future needs and challenges.
As he noted, this initiative was launched in January 2005 following a report by a Committee of seven academics relating to governance and administration, restructuring educational levels from nursery to university and the content of education in the future.
“The ongoing educational reform represents the main educational policy of the government. It is an effort for a comprehensive introduction of reforms and innovations at all levels and aspects of the educational system,” Mr. Demetriou said.
He referred to some of the measures that have been adopted so far as the decrease in the number of pupils per class for all grades of the primary school so that the maximum number of pupils in all grades of primary schools will not exceed 25 in all day compulsory primary schools, working morning and afternoon and the implementation of free compulsory pre primary education at the age of 4 and a half.
Stressing that one of the most important innovations will be the reconstruction of the curriculum and that this effort intends to ensure that teaching will meet the needs of all students, Mr. Demetriou said that a special committee has been appointed to adapt pedagogical interventions to the needs of each student, acknowledging that each student differs in learning and level of functioning.
Furthermore, he said that considerable efforts have been made to develop and implement inclusive policies on all levels to further support and improve the existing special needs education programs and to develop new support services in order to provide education for all children.
As the Minister noted “the inclusion of children with special needs into mainstream education is a matter of major policy for the Ministry of Education and Culture of Cyprus, which is in line with current international conventions and philosophical thought. The adoption of this policy has been accompanied by a change in the perceptions, beliefs and attitudes of society towards children with special needs whether they are in the education system or the community at large,” he added.
He explained that “through the core articles of the Law for Special Education, the state recognises that all children have a right to an education appropriate to their needs.”
Mr. Demetriou said that a main outcome of the Limassol conference will be the ‘Cyprus Recommendations on Inclusive Assessment’, a document that will be agreed upon by all representatives of participating countries in the meeting and then disseminated to key policy makers across Europe with the aim of informing policy making in this key area.