Cyprus Set to Vote on Extending Free Pre-Primary Education

In a significant move towards enhancing early childhood education, the Parliament of Cyprus is poised to cast a vote next week on a pivotal bill that seeks to broaden the scope of free and compulsory pre-primary education to encompass children aged four years and older. This legislative step arrives on the heels of a directive from Education Minister Athena Michaelidou, urging the House Education committee to expedite the process.

During a recent committee assembly, chaired by Diko MP Pavlos Mylonas, Minister Michaelidou’s letter was read aloud, highlighting the commitment of various ministries and deputy ministries to “work together to effectively deal with” the challenges currently facing the education sector. The goal is to ensure the seamless implementation of this transformative policy.

The bill has garnered cross-party support, with Diko MP Chrysanthos Savvides emphasizing its potential to benefit “thousands of families on low incomes,” enabling them to select suitable schools for their children. Disy MP Giorgos Karoullas acknowledged the reform as “absolutely necessary” but voiced concerns over the need for assurances from the ministry to prevent the closure of nursery schools. He criticized some proposed solutions as “general and vague” and stressed that Parliament should not be compelled to “cover for the Education ministry’s failure to carry out a proper consultation.”

A forthcoming meeting between the Education ministry, the Social Welfare deputy ministry, and the private preschools association (Sipek) is expected to be a decisive factor for MPs like Karoullas before they agree to advance the bill.

Akel MP Christos Christofides struck a more optimistic tone, suggesting that any potential issues could be resolved during a transitional phase. He expressed confidence that “there is a formula which can satisfy the whole of Cypriot society.”

The government’s strategy entails a gradual reduction in the minimum age for nursery school admission, starting with children aged four years and six months in the upcoming academic year. This threshold will continue to decrease over time, ultimately reaching four years old, thereby allowing nursery schools ample opportunity to expand their facilities and services accordingly.

As Cyprus awaits this landmark vote, the anticipation builds for what could be a transformative change in the nation’s approach to pre-primary education, promising a brighter educational start for its youngest citizens.

expansion of pre-primary education

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