This report drafted by Broken Chalk contributes to the fourth cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for the Republic of Cyprus. This report focuses exclusively on human rights issues in Cyprus’ education field.
- Cyprus has turned the island into a place renowned for conflicts due to the differences between the two central communities, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. In 1974, a Greek coup against the President of the country and Turkey’s military invasion and partition of the island led to the forceful division and completed the physical separation of the two central communities. (i) This situation and especially the consequences of the Turkish invasion affected every sector, such as the economy, the society, and the education system.
- Nowadays, two education systems exist in the country. The structural organisation of Turkish schools is similar to the Greek one. However, there are a lot of differences. The Republic of Cyprus, as a member of the European Union since 2004, complies with European standards about education. Compulsory education lasts for ten years and four months, starting from the age of 4 years (pre-preliminary education) and extending to the age of 15 years (end of lower secondary education). Public education, namely preliminary, primary, and secondary education, is free for all from the age of 4 years to 18 years. However, there are many private institutions. Furthermore, public tertiary (non-university level) education is free. As for public higher education (undergraduate level), it is free for Cypriots and citizens from the European Union, as the government fully pays the fees. [i]
- As for the northern part of Cyprus, Turkey controls it, and the educational system is similar to the Turkish one. Education is compulsory and free from age 5 to 17 years. Higher education includes all the institutions after secondary education. The system consists of 5 private universities and one semi-public state academy. [ii] Under these circumstances, both educational systems of Cyprus have been criticised for supporting the idea of the other as an enemy.
By Alexia Kapsabeli
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[i] Cyprus Eurydice European Union https://eurydice.eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-education-systems/cyprus/overview Last accessed 3 September 2023
Cover image by EUCyprus via Wikimedia Commons