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EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.1 General context

Last update: 29 March 2023
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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 2022 Report for Cyprus, since 2015, early school leaving rates have increased, affecting especially foreign-born young people. As it is stated in the report “with one of the EU’s highest asylum application-to-inhabitant ratio, integrating asylum seekers into the education system is not easy”. In 2021, 10.2% of 18-24-year-olds had not completed upper secondary education, despite the small decrease of 1.3 pps compared to 2020, and still above the EU 2021 average of 9.7% and the EU-level target (<9% by 2030). The proportion of early leavers from education and training among foreign-born young people in particular continues to increase: 31.4% in 2021, compared to 27.3%in 2020 and 23.3% in 2019. The proportion of native-born early school leavers has been decreased compared to the previous year, 3.9% in 2021 compared to 4.9% in 2020 and 4.8% in 2019. In addition, the Report states that about two thirds of early leavers are boys, and that the highest proportion of early leavers in 2021 was reported in urban areas (10.7%): an increase of 6.9 pps from 2015 (3.8%).

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.

Concerning students' mobility, the latest available data by the Cyprus Statistical Service (published on 31/03/2021) report that 25 016 mobile Cypriot students were studying in other European countries during the academic year 2017/2018. In addition, 4 332 mobile Cypriot graduates have graduated from other European countries in 2018. No data is available for students studying or graduating from countries outside European Union.

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 2019 Cyprus Report and the Education and Training Monitor 2020 Cyprus Report, the main challenges in young people’s participation in education and training in Cyprus are:

  • Tertiary education attainment has risen further, but underutilisation of skills remains a challenge given the specific features of the Cypriot labour market. Measures have been taken to upgrade vocational education and training and adult learning, but the attractiveness of both sectors and participation in them remain low.
  • Several initiatives in vocational education and training (VET) aim to improve labour market links, yet participation in upper secondary VET remains low.
  • Almost 2 out of 3 students (58.9%) from the lowest socio-economic quartile are low achievers in reading (EU average: 36.4%). In the top socio-economic quartile, 29.7% are low achievers, the highest share in the EU (where the average is 9.5%). These findings underline the need for policies that tackle underachievement across the socio-economic spectrum while maintaining and strengthening specific support for disadvantaged groups.
  • Digital education is clearly a policy focus, but implementation needs to be improved. Distance learning highlighted several gaps.
  • No policy guidance exists for providing post-secondary education for young migrant adults, even though the proportion of recently arrived refugees aged 18-34 is especially high at 62%, in 2018.

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 developing a mechanism for validation and recognition of non-formal and informal learning (including volunteerism and youth work). For more information, please read the forthcoming policy developments under section 6.10.

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 8/12 – 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.

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.