About Cyprus


Overall responsibility for education rests with the Ministry of Education and Culture. However, a small number of vocational and post-secondary professional institutions come under the Ministries of Labour and Social Insurance, Agriculture and Health.

Education is provided through pre-primary and primary schooling - the latter starts at the age of 5 years and 8 months - secondary general and secondary technical/vocational schools, special schools, the University and other third-level institutions and non-formal institutions centres.

Public schools are mainly financed from public funds, while private institutions raise their funds mainly from tuition fees, small state subsidies and in some cases from foreign aid through overseas agencies and religious organizations.

The educational system is highly centralized with the appointments, transfers, promotions and disciplinary matters of teachers controlled by the State. Syllabi, curricula and textbooks are set to a large extent, by governmental agencies. Schools at all levels are visited by the inspectorate, which offers in-service training, advice and supervision. Schools evaluation lies also with the inspectorate. Educational policies are formulated by the Ministry of Education and Culture on the advice of the Education Council - a widely representative body - and finally approved by the Council of Ministers. The construction, maintenance and equipment of school buildings are the responsibility of central government and local education authorities. Private schools are owned and administered by individuals or bodies, but are liable to supervision and inspection by the Ministry of Education and Culture.

The importance of pre-primary education has been recognised by the Government. Temporary public nursery schools were established after the Turkish invasion in 1974 in refugee camps and settlements. Since 1979 the public pre-primary education expansion project is in effect, offering equal educational opportunities to children aged 4 1/2 - 5 2/3 years. The final target is full coverage of children of this age bracket.

The expansion of pre-primary education, state and private, covers around 49,6% of the children aged between 3-5. There are three categories of pre-primary institutions:
(a) Public nursery schools are established by the government and supported partly by the government and partly by the parents%26rsquo; associations. The teachers are centrally appointed and paid through the government budget.
(b) Community nursery schools are established and supported by local authorities and parents%26rsquo; associations, which also employ the teachers. These nursery schools are highly subsidised by the government.
(c) Private nursery schools are established and supported by individuals on a profit-making basis.

Public community and private pre-primary institutions are supervised by the Ministry of Education and Culture. A number of day-care centres come under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance.

Primary education is both free and compulsory. The government pays the salaries of the teachers and hands out annual grants to all local authorities according to the number of pupils in their area. Schools function in every town and village where more than 15 children live. Area schools serve neighbouring communities with less than 15 pupils. Most of the big primary schools in urban areas and in big rural communities are divided into two cycles: cycle A catering for grades I-llI and cycle B comprising of grades IV-VI. The pupil /teacher ratio at national level is 18,0 while teachers are allocated in such a way that the biggest class size does not exceed 34 pupils and 32 for the 1st grade.

According to the curriculum experiential, meaningful learning is being sought through emphasis on environment and social subjects, language development, creative expression in music, art and movement. The acquisition of the basic skills of reading, writing and mathematics has an important place in all grades of primary schooling. Primary school leavers receive at the end of the sixth year a leaving certificate, the main evaluating procedure being the continuous one.

The major goals set by the new curriculum, which was introduced in 1994, are:
- To assimilate the spiritual, cultural and other achievements as well as other sound elements of the past.
- To make the best use of all potentialities of the present.
- To proceed to new achievements in all domains of social activities and to maximize the contribution for a better world.
- To develop attitudes and skills for physical and mental health.
- To strengthen the fighting spirit of the new generation which lives in a partly occupied country.

In the field of Special Education, effort is being made not to segregate disabled children but to give them the opportunity to grow and learn together with normal children. They learn as much as their abilities and potentialities allow them to learn in the normal environment, which satisfies psychological and physical needs. Special provision, however, is made for the severely mentally handicapped children, and children with severe emotional problems who attend special schools.

Public Secondary Education is divided into two cycles: The Gymnasium and the Lyceum or Technical / Vocational School, which provide a six-year course to children in the 11-17+ age group. Secondary education has become compulsory up to the third year of the gymnasium or on completion of the age of 15 and it has been free for both cycles since 1985.

The second cycle, which comprises the last three years of secondary education is offered either by the Lyceum of Elective Subjects or by the Technical / Vocational Schools. Pupils are assisted in making their choice by the Vocational Guidance Services. At the Lyceum of Elective Subjects, there are three categories of subjects. The subjects of the main core which have to be attended by all pupils, specialization subjects and supplementary subjects, which are elective. Although pupils are free in principle to choose any of the elective subjects, in practice there are the following five main combinations of subjects, which include related groups of elective subjects.

Combination I with emphasis on classical studies. Combination II on science, Combination III on economics, Combination IV on commercial subjects and subjects related to skills for office professions and Combination V on foreign languages.

The new concept of Eniaio Lykeio, i.e. a type of Comprehensive Lyceum integrating Secondary General Education and Technical/Vocational Education, has been implemented as a pilot project in three selected urban schools. The new system, intended to render Secondary Education consistent with modern trends, involves a basic obligatory common core of subjects in the three years of the Secondary Level with limited option in the first year and intensive specialisation through subject selection in the 2nd and 3rd years.

Private Secondary Schools are mainly oriented towards the commercial vocational education, although some of them incorporate technical / vocational subjects as well. As in the case of public schools the studies cover a six-year cycle, the emphasis being in the first three years on general education. These schools are supported by fees paid by parents.

A small number of private schools are run on a non-profit basis by various religious groups or other agencies. The courses of these schools last six to seven years, their language of instruction is English, French, or Italian and they focus on general education and languages.

Students enter technical and vocational schools after successful completion of the gymnasium at the age of fifteen. All technical schools offer two types of courses - technical and vocational. Technical courses are of three years duration and in addition to technical theory and practice they lay particular emphasis on sciences and mathematics. The specializations offered in the technical direction are Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Building Construction, Graphic Arts and Interior Design and Garment Design and Construction. Graduates of the technical section may be employed as technicians in industry or follow further studies in colleges and universities.

All vocational programmes are of a three-year duration. In the final year of the vocational courses students attend school for three days a week and for the remaining two days follow a practical training programme in industry. In the vocational direction more emphasis is given to practical skills by allocating more workshop periods than in the technical direction. In the vocational direction there are eight branches which offer specialization in mechanical and electrical engineering, in building construction, in furniture making, in shoe making, in hotel and catering, in hotel maintenance, in jewellery and silversmithing, in dress-making and in draughtsmanship. Graduates of the vocational direction are employed in the local industry or may follow further studies.

The total number of Cypriot students at home and abroad during the academic year 1998-99 was 23.330. Those studying in Cyprus were 10.842 forming 46% of the student population.

During the academic year 1996-97 the University of Cyprus and eight Public Tertiary Education Institutions were offering courses of study. The University of Cyprus is an autonomous educational institution while the Public Tertiary Education Institutions operate under other Ministries of the Republic.

The University of Cyprus offered programmes through the following faculties:
(a) Human and Social Sciences
(b) Pure and Applied Sciences
(c) Economics and Management
(d) Letters

The Ministry of Education and Culture, through its Department of Higher and Tertiary Education took all measures, within its competence, for the smooth operation of the University.

The Public Tertiary Education Institutions operating in Cyprus during the academic year 1996-1997 were:
(a) The Higher Technical Institute
(b) The Higher Hotel Institute of Cyprus
(c) The Cyprus Forestry College
(d) The Mediterranean Institute of Management
(e) The School of Nursing
(f) The Public Health Inspectors School
(g) The Tourism Guide School
(h) The Cyprus Police Academy

There were twenty private third level educational institutions, which offered courses of study in various fields of one to four years%26rsquo; duration.

During 1996 the House of Representatives enacted two Laws regarding higher education. The first one, Law 67(I)/96, regulates the establishment, control and operation of institutions of tertiary education. The other Law 68(I) 96, provides for the establishment of the Cyprus Council for the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications (Kypriako Symvoulio Anagnorisis Titlon Spoudon (KY.S.A.T.S.)).

Implementing the two Laws the Ministry of Education and Culture has moved forward to the process of educational accreditation and the establishment of the Recognition Council.

Greek is the language of 82% of the population of the island and Turkish of 18%. English is widely spoken and is a compulsory subject in the last three forms of primary education and at secondary school level.

The following table summarises the existing educational situation during the 1997-1998 school year:
The schools in the Turkish occupied are included:

Level of education No. of schools No. of pupils No. of teachers Pupil / Teacher ratio
All full time education 728 140943 10069 14.0
Pre primary education 223 8596 386 22.2
Primary education 354 61811 3439 18.0
Secondary education 110 61350 5414 11.3
Third-level education 29 8874 728 12.2
Special education 12 312 102 3.1

Ministry of Education and Culture

Entry Date 8/8/2001