6.10 Current debates and reforms
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Continuation of the National Youth Strategy 2017-2022
The second action plan of the National Youth Strategy 2017-2022 (NYS) for the period 2020-2022 is currently being implemented. Upon the completion of the 2nd action plan, a new National Youth Strategy is expected to be implemented for the period 2023-2030. For this reason, internal procedures, discussions and consultations among relevant stakeholders and the Youth Board of Cyprus in relation to its development have already began within 2022. Important part of the process of developing the new Youth Strategy are the consultations with young people. As a result, the 4th National Youth Conference, which took place on 8th April 2022, aimed through workshops at young people’s engagement in shaping collective suggestions and proposals which will serve as food for thought for the forthcoming National Youth Strategy 2023-2030.
Validation of non-formal learning
The project in regards to the “Establishment of mechanisms for the validation of non-formal and informal learning and pilot implementation” is also under development. According to the 2021 Annual Report, the Contractors of the project are in the process of preparing four deliverables (1) Development of the qualifications’ validation framework for the needs of the pilot study in the fields of Youth, Volunteerism and Adult Education, (2) Establishment of an electronic Registry for all the involved parties and individuals (such as individuals who want to validate their knowledge and institutions that offer programmes), (3) Development of counselling and diagnostic mechanisms to validate Non-Formal and Informal Learning and (4) Organization of a consultation system. However, for more information regarding this process, please read section 6.4 - Validation of non-formal and informal learning.
New bill for inclusive education in Cyprus
The Ministry of Education, , Sport and Youth is planning to reform and upgrade the current legislative framework and practices of Special Education to make it more inclusive and coincide with other European and national policy models. The initiative is funded by the European Union through the Structural Reform Support Programme. , To progress on the reform, according to the Greek version of the 2021 Annual Report (p.10), a Scientific Medical Advisory Committee is appointed in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, the Cyprus Medical Association (Παγκύπριος Ιατρικός Σύνδεσμος) and the Pediatric Society of Cyprus (Παιδιατρική Εταιρεία Κύπρου), with the aim to:
(a) examine the process of recruitment and allocation of special assistants (“σχολικοί βοηθοί”) at schools and to make relevant recommendations;
(b) examine and maybe redefine the duties, qualifications and recruitment process of special assistants based on the individual characteristics of the children with special needs who are included in Special Education;
(c) make recommendations on the composition of a Central Committee (a secondary body) for the examination of individual cases;
(d) examine and make recommendations on the procedure for referring children with special needs either to general schools or Special Units or Special Schools;
(e) examine and make recommendations regarding the specific needs of Special Schools.
Under this Programme, 3.6 reform priority is related to “Addressing labour market, education and skills and social challenges” and its subsection 3.6.1 refers to “Taking measures to tackle youth unemployment and the high rate of young people Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEETs)”. Under this category, there is a reform/investment with refers to the support of young people through “the development and operation of four mobile PES units for outreaching the NEETs and providing them with guidance, counselling and employment services.” More specifically, it is stated (p. 44) that “mobile units will promote outreach activities for NEETs in all districts of Cyprus with the purpose of minimizing the risks of social exclusion and increasing the opportunities for their integration in the labour market. In particular, for the purchase of the four automobiles a call for tenders was published in March 2022 and the tenders are currently under evaluation. In April 2022, a call for tenders was announced for the purchase of services of the operational team of twelve Employment Counsellors and one Coordinator which will staff the four mobile PES units for outreaching the NEETs.” In addition, coaching and career guidance for the labour market orientation and integration of NEETs will be provided through cooperation of PES with academic institutions and training centres. It is expected that coaching will be offered to at least 5.500 young people Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs) by Q2 2026.
The major current debates that are taking place in the public sphere regarding the above-mentioned topics concern the implementation of the National Youth Strategy 2017-2022 and its successor, the validation of non-formal learning, the development of youth work in Cyprus as well as the reform regarding the Special Education in Cyprus.
The Ministry of Education, , Sport and Youth each year discusses several initiatives and programmes to enhance formal education (curriculum, evaluation, enhancement of special education and education of vulnerable groups, etc.). The latest educational reform for upgrading the curriculum of several subjects as well as the school timetable of primary and secondary education is under ongoing progress and evaluation. However, there are still a lot of sectors and policies to be further developed and discussed especially in relation to recognition of non-formal learning.