The new generation is facing huge changes, at home and abroad. In an ever changing world, it becomes more imperative to answer the following questions: is education at the level we all wish it to be? Are schools in a position to meet today’s challenges?
Over time, we have heard different replies to the question about the kind of education that we need. Many announcements have been made but the changes which were introduced in education did not yield the anticipated result.
My position is that the only way, the only answer to expedite the changes our country needs is Progressive Reform in our education. However, what are the main elements of such a reform?
The times we live in have created new demands about the content of education as well as the teaching and learning methods. The fast expansion of new technologies and our EU membership offer big new possibilities and a wide spectrum of careers for the young generation: freedom of movement, educational opportunities, new types of employment, work from home and remote education, life-long learning.
Our young people need those aptitudes which will help them develop their skills to be happy and have a career in an environment without borders. Society today demands self-education over learning by heart and assimilating information which is readily available. Consequently, the student with multiple skills is the one who has the ability to adapt, process knowledge and apply this knowledge in practice. Such a student, as he or she grows older, will be able to advance development further forward. With critical thinking and the ability to adapt to the new environment! Being subjected to exams every four months cannot be the answer to progress towards these goals.
Technological advancement, automation and digitalization are constantly changing market demands and the needs of society. Most jobs evolve and demand continuous training. Many posts are abolished. New fields of professional expertise open up and create prospects.
I propose Progressive Reform in order to link technology with humanistic education and combine our cultural identity with the achievements of the international community. The content of educational programmes must support the principles of equality, tolerance, dialogue, empathy through the development of the student’s critical ability. Moreover, we should start early, that is why I support the upgrading of education in kindrgardens as well as pre-primary school children.
Day-long schooling provides positive answers to many of today’s “pending issues”, such as assimilate school material better, contain out of school private lessons, support the weaker students as well as facilitate working parents. This is why we need to develop day-long schooling fast. We all recognize how important it is but we cannot be satisfied with its implementation so far.
We also need to think about beginning a dialogue with the Highest Educational Institutions in the country with the aim of introducing Cyprus Foundation courses in tertiary education. Such a move will have double benefits: first students will no longer be stressed out about entrance exams and second it will help bridge the gaps which future students have.
At the same time we also have to think about utilizing in a more effective way, school installations when schools are closed. These sports installations are in themselves a kind of idle wealth when they are not being used. During the afternoons, communities, associations, different groups and or individuals could have access to them for their own activities.
The Progressive Reform of our education is a long overdue demand put forward by society. Parents provide their children with all available means to give them the opportunity to get educated. Additionally, the state makes a huge investment. The end result is not satisfactory.
We need political will, a programme for Progressive Reform, plans, decisiveness, people who inspire in the belief that we can actually implement this Reform.
Progressive Reform in education and digital transformation are the solid pillars of evolution in modern societies, on which we can rely to modernize our country.
Cyprus deserves better!