Schooling and Education in Cyprus
The Education System in the Republic of Cyprus has four stages: pre-school, primary, secondary and higher education.
Nine years of education are compulsory (and free at state schools): from Primary School (age 6) to the end of the third year of Secondary School (age 15).
The Ministry of Education and Culture has approved all nursery schools (or kindergartens) operating on the island, whether a state-run nursery school or a private nursery school. The Ministry of Education and Culture also determines the curriculum to be followed. There are 3 categories of nursery school:
- Public nursery schools operate under the authority of the Ministry of Education and Culture, working in collaboration with parents' associations and community authorities. All teachers are qualified, while the teaching assistants must have completed secondary schooling.
- Communal nursery schools are run by parents' associations or community authorities and are registered by the Ministry of Education and Culture.
- Private nursery schools are privately established and owned. However, they are all approved by Ministry of Education and Culture and operate according to the Private Schools' Law, 1971, of the Republic of Cyprus.
A child's vaccination certificate should be given to the relevant school when a child is enrolled for primary school. New residents should take records of their child's health and vaccinations (UK families show the "red book") to the health visitor at the general hospital who will then provide a Cypriot vaccination certificate and advice on any other vaccinations needed. Vaccinations are only advised by schools and are not compulsory unless an epidemic of a particular illness, such as measles, occurs.
Primary education is compulsory in Cyprus and free at state schools administered by the Government. Education at private schools is not free and fees vary from school to school (direct enquiries can be made at the school).
Primary education is a six-year period. Children may enter the Primary School system from the age of 5 years and 8 months.
Any town or village with more than 15 children of school going age will have a primary school (children from villages with fewer than 15 will be accepted into the regional school for a neighbouring community).
In the smaller village schools, where the entire pupil population may be as little as 39, pupils will be in multi-grade classes of mixed ages and levels. One-teacher schools are for a maximum of 19 pupils and two-teacher schools for a pupil population up to 39. In urban areas and in larger schools where each class is single-grade, the six-year primary school period is broken into:
- Cycle A: Grades 1 to 3 (for ages 6 to 8 years)
- Cycle B: Grades 4 to 6 (for ages 9 to 11 years)
When primary school is completed a child will receive a leaving certificate.
There are no completion examinations and readiness to proceed to Secondary school is assessed by on-going evaluations throughout the learning period. A child cannot continue on to Secondary school without a leaving certificate.
The Cyprus school day ends at lunchtime.
The all-day school system was introduced at an experimental level in 1999 to extend the day for homework and optional subjects including Foreign Languages, Information Technology, Music and Art. The system continues to expand to schools across the island. All-day schools operates on a voluntary basis for grades 4 to 6 and attendance is optional. They operate four afternoons per week until 16:00 from October to May. (Some schools have introduced all-day school for grades 1 to 3 and stay open until 13:05.)
State schools are increasing facilities for multi-cultural education with the aim of providing better support for foreign pupils, particularly with regards to learning Greek as a second language.
A child cannot enter secondary school without a leaving certificate showing completion of primary education.
The secondary school period is six-years and is for children from age 12 to 18. The first three years are compulsory, with school leaving permitted after the fifteenth birthday. There are no entrance examinations for a child moving from a state owned primary school however, school-goers who have completed primary school at a private foreign-language institution must undergo a series of entrance examinations to be allowed to attend Cypriot public secondary schools.
- State run secondary schools are co-educational
- The school day runs from 7:30 to 13:35
- The school week is a five-day week, Monday to Friday, usually broken into seven periods of 45 minutes each
- The school year begins in September and ends in June
- Examinations take place in June
- The school year is broken into three trimesters: September to December, December to March and March to May
A child cannot continue to the next level without passing examinations.
The secondary school cycle is broken into two phases:
- Gymnasio Cycle (lower secondary)
- Lykeio Cycle (upper secondary)
Lower secondary school (Gymnasio)
This is a period of general education for ages 12 to 15.
Much attention is given to vocational guidance in the last year of the Lower cycle and career guidance is available throughout the Lykeio Cycle from counsellors assigned to the role at each school. They also act to monitor students with emotional problems and pupils from dysfunctional families.
Upper secondary school
The Lykeio Cycle comprises two types of schools: the Eniaio Lykeio and Technical and Vocational Schools.
Upper secondary school (Lykeio) Eniaio Lykeio Admission is available to pupils who have completed and passed the Gymnasio Cycle. The curriculum diversifies at this point into three distinct programme curricula, all leading to a school leaving certificate (Apolytirion). The final examinations for the third and final year are organised externally by each school. Papers are marked by teachers from schools other than where they teach - they do not mark their own pupils' papers.
Secondary technical and vocational education (STVE)
After completion of compulsory secondary education - the Gymnasio Cycle - a pupil can continue with a three-year technical education (STVE) provided they have a leaving certificate. Both the technical (a focus on the sciences) and vocational (a focus on technology, industry and workshop training) educations look at the theoretical and practical aspects of the subjects.
Successful completion of secondary technical or vocational education allows a graduate to attend a tertiary institution.
Higher and Tertiary Education
Higher education is available in Cyprus at state owned institutions (The Cyprus University) and private third-level institutions.
Private schools are not free of charge. Contact the school directly for guidance on the fee structure.
Private international schools have considerable independence from the state system in both their operation and the curricula offered. The majority of private schools, however, are registered with the Ministry of Education and Culture and comply with certain curriculum and facility requirements mandated by law.
Most schools will require a child to attend an interview and/or take an entrance test for their level to be assessed before admission. Teaching at most of Cyprus’ international schools is in English, however most will have ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers to help children from non-English-language countries. International school curricula tends to accommodate the teaching levels of their representative country.