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EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.1 General context

Last update: 29 March 2024
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  1. Main trends in young people's participation in education and training
  2. Organisation of the education and training system
  3. Main concepts

Main trends in young people's participation in education and training

Based on the Education and Training Monitor 2023 Report for Cyprus, in 2022, the share of young people (18-24 years old) having left education and training prematurely decreased compared to the previous year by 2.1 pps to 8.10% (EU average: 9.60%). As it is stated in the report “this was the first decrease recorded after steady increases since 2015. The decrease is mainly due to the drop in the share of early leavers among the non-EU born population (26.1% in 2022 vs EU average 22.1%), -5.3 pps in 2022. However, the gap between native and non-EU born youngsters is still the widest in the EU: i.e. -22.7 pps. Cyprus has one of the EU’s highest asylum application-to-inhabitant ratios and faces structural difficulties in integrating minors into the formal education system”. 

In addition, the Education and Training Monitor 2022 states that the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in education is on the rise in Cyprus; 82% of 16-19-year-olds are reported to have basic or above basic overall digital skills, compared to 69% EU average (2021). The Report also mentions that Cyprus is among the few EU Member States whose higher education strategy focuses exclusively on the social dimension, equity, inclusion and diversity, by providing financial aid and scholarship schemes to students based on socio-economic criteria and academic excellence as well as free online education by the Open University of Cyprus for undergraduate programmes.

On the occasion of the International Day of Education, which takes place each year on January 24 throughout the world, the Statistical Service of Cyprus published an Infographic on “Young Adults and Education 2021”. In Cyprus, the percentage of young people aged 25-34 with the highest educational level below High School was 9.90%, with a High School level of 31.80% and a Tertiary Education level of 58.30%. Business Administration and Law, Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences, Journalism and Information were the three most popular fields of study among all Tertiary Education graduates of this age group, according to the relevant press release of the Cyprus Ministry of Finance.

Concerning students' mobility, the Department of Higher Education (DHE) of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth (MESY) has proceeded with the administrative survey entitled “Mapping of the Educational Field of Higher Education of Cyprus for the academic year 2021/2022”. Based on the results of the mapping study, in the respective academic year, the total number of students studying at Higher Education Institutions in Cyprus was 52 544. Participation in mobilities for studies or training abroad was explored in one of the study’s sections. According to findings, a very small percentage of students participated in mobility programs during the academic year 2021/2022. More specifically, only 213 students (0.4%) out of a total of 52 544. The vast majority (211 or 99%) participated in Erasmus+ mobility programmes, with Greece being the first country of choice (108 or 51%), Spain being the second (14 or 7%) and third was Italy (12 or 6%).. In addition, the official data ( Στοιχεία για τα προγράμματα και τις υπηρεσίες μας το 2022), provided by the Youth Board of Cyprus (YBC), reported that 2.059 young people participated in in trainings for youth workers and youth exchanges under the Erasmus+ Youth programme in 2022. Moreover, based on similar national statistics of the YBC (Στοιχεία για το πρόγραμμα Erasmus+: Νεολαία), for the period 2014-2018, 21 948 young people participated in the various activities of the Erasmus+ programme, of which 8 279 participated in youth mobilities and trainings for youth workers, 9 756 participated in transnational cooperation, 3 316 participated in the process of structured dialogue for youth and 597 participated in volunteering activities.

Based on the Education and Training Monitor 2023 Cyprus Report, some of the main challenges in young people’s participation in education and training in Cyprus are:

  • Skills mismatches. Despite measures, a considerable share of people aged 20-64 are overqualified for their current job, 31.80% in 2022, above the EU average of 22.20%.
  • Underachievement in basic skills and equity in education; socio-economic status proved to be a strong predictor of reading competence among students from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds in international assessment surveys.

Participation in VET still remains low in Cyprus, mainly due to a strong preference of young Cypriots for entering tertiary education. Therefore, there is a need to further upgrade the VET system, through modern curricula and specialisations that meet the needs of the Cypriot economy.

The Cyprus Ministry of Education, Sport and Youth (MESY), in cooperation with other public stakeholders including  the Youth Board of Cyprus, is  in the process of setting the occupational standards of youth workers in Cyprus. 

Last, a major topic in the Cyprus Education is the integration of children with a migrant background.  The 2021 Annual Report of the Ministry of Education,  Sport and Youth mentions that the Ministry implements an upgraded educational policy pertaining to Multicultural Education, aiming at the smooth integration of pupils with migrant background into the educational system of Cyprus. For more information, please consult section 6.6.

Organisation of the education and training system

The Education system in Cyprus consists of the following stages:

Pre-Primary education is compulsory for all children between 4 6/12 – 6 years old. Children are also accepted over the age of 3.

Primary Education is compulsory for all children over the age of 6 years old and has a duration of 6 years.

Secondary Education offers two three-year cycles of education – Gymnasio (lower secondary education which is mandatory) and Lykeio (upper secondary general education which is optional) – to pupils between the ages of 12 and 18. The curriculum includes core lessons, interdisciplinary subjects and a variety of extracurricular activities. Education is compulsory up to the age of 15 and free of charge for both cycles. Upon completion of Lykeio, pupils receive a school leaving certificate (apolyterion), providing access to Institutions of Higher and Tertiary Education in Cyprus or abroad.

Instead of the Lykeio, pupils may choose to attend Upper Secondary Technical and Vocational Education.

Upper Secondary Technical and Vocational Education offers a wide range of technical and vocational initial training and lifelong training programmes to eligible gymnasium leavers and adults. Formal mainstream upper secondary initial technical and vocational education programmes are offered at technical schools free of charge. They are offered in two directions, the theoretical and the practical direction. Upon completion of secondary technical and vocational education, pupils receive a school leaving certificate (apolyterion), which is equivalent to that awarded by lykeio, providing access to the world of work or to Institutions of Higher and Tertiary Education in Cyprus or abroad.

Post- secondary non-tertiary education (Μεταλυκειακά Ινστιτούτα Επαγγελματικής Εκπαίδευσης και Κατάρτισης – ΜΙΕΕΚ) is offered to graduates of secondary education (18+ years old) at the Post- Secondary Institutes of Vocational Education and Training. The education programmes last two years (four semesters) and aim to upgrade learners’ professional qualifications and skills so as to satisfy the demands of the labour market. A list of the programmes offered in the Institutes of the various districts can be found in the official website of the Ministry (Προγράμματα Σπουδών). 

Adult Education. The institution of Adult Education Centres (AEC) was initially established in 1952, mainly in rural areas. Today it operates in all non-occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus, offering learning opportunities for further personal, professional and social development to thousands of adults aged 15 and over. The AEC offer a variety of interdisciplinary courses, which focus mainly on the teaching of foreign languages, arts and crafts, cultural programmes, health, and other issues of general interest, as well as on the teaching of professional and vocational skills. Furthermore, every year the AEC organise free of charge learning activities for various target groups, such as people with literacy difficulties, people with special needs, enclaved Cypriots, prisoners, soldiers, mentally ill and elderly people. They also offer free of charge Greek language courses to the children of repatriated Cypriots, political refugees, and Turkish Cypriots. Moreover, Turkish language courses are offered free of charge to Greek Cypriots.

For more information about the Cypriot educational system, please visit the Eurydice website or the website of the Cyprus Ministry of Education, Sport and Youth or the Ministry’s 2021 Annual Report.

Main concepts

The definition of Special Need Education (SNE) in Cyprus has been specified in the Special Education Law 113(1) of 1999 (Περί Αγωγής και Εκπαίδευσης Παιδιών με Ειδικές Ανάγκες Νόμος του 1999) and in its relevant updated versions (Ο περί Αγωγής και Εκπαίδευσης Παιδιών με Ειδικές Ανάγκες (Τροποποιητικός) Νόμος του 2001, 2014 και 2020).

In addition, there is no official definition of non-formal education in Cyprus. However, the Council of Europe’s definition in the Recommendation CM/Rec(2017)4 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on youth work, is used.