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, discussions and consultations among relevant stakeholders and the Youth Board of Cyprus in relation to its development are expected to start within 2022.
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, based on the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth Annual Report 2020 (Ετήσια Έκθεση 2020, pp. 350-351) The Project aims at: a) mapping the current situation in Cyprus regarding the validation of non-formal and informal learning; b) elaborating a National Action Plan for the creation of validation mechanisms, and c) piloting mechanisms which will focus on adult education, youth and volunteering.
A draft Action Plan was created for the purpose of conducting open consultations with young people and relevant stakeholders from all over Cyprus in regards to the topic, and following their recommendations the document was finally approved by the Council of Ministers in October 2018 (Απόσπασμα από τα Πρακτικά της Συνεδρίας του Υπουργικού Συμβουλίου Ημερομηνίας 16/10/2018). The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth has assigned, under the process of open government tender, the project "Establishment of Validation Mechanisms for non-formal and informal Learning - Pilot Implementation" (Θέσπιση Μηχανισμών Επικύρωσης Mη-Tυπικής και Άτυπης Μάθησης – Πιλοτική Εφαρμογή) to two private organisations in Cyprus, lasting from November 2021 until August 2022. Within the framework of the project, between February-April 2022, public consultations will be conducted with the participation of governmental and private organisations and bodies, educational and research institutions that provide non-formal or informal learning and/or specialising in youth, education and adult education.
New bill for inclusive education in Cyprus
The Ministry of Education, Culture, 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. For this reason, as it is mentioned in the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education official website, the process is currently on a second round of working groups with several stakeholders (such as education professionals, parent and student groups, representatives from universities, ministry officials) where a specific thematic area of inclusive education was discussed in each of them. Following a series of discussions and procedures, the recommendations will be used to develop the draft regulations. The draft regulations will define in more detail the operational set-up of the topics included in the new draft bill on inclusive education. It is expected that the preparation of the new bill will be completed with 2021. For more information on the phases of the process, please read the Agency’s news section or the Ministry’s official website of Special Education available only in Greek (Μεταρρύθμιση της Ειδικής Εκπαίδευσης).
Following the successful implementation of the Cyprus Lifelong Learning Strategy 2014-2020, the New Strategy for the period 2021-2027 is currently under development and ongoing discussions. The New Strategy is expected to: a) face challenges, such as the low participation of adults in lifelong learning and the quite high percentage of unemployment among young people; b) enhance the efforts of upskilling and re-skilling of low-qualified and low-skilled adults; c) benefit other groups, such as early school leavers, NEETS and migrants/refugees; d) enrich knowledge, skills and competences; e) better respond to the challenges related to the promotion of lifelong learning and adult education at the Republic of Cyprus.
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, the validation of non-formal learning and the development of youth work in Cyprus.
The mapping of the current situation in Cyprus regarding the validation of non-formal and informal learning was presented in the “Recommendations for development of youth work in Cyprus” by the youth policy advisory mission of the Council of Europe which took place in April 2019. Within 2020, the Youth Board of Cyprus established a dedicated Working Group on Youth Work, consisted of Youth Board officers and representatives of umbrella youth organisations, with the mandate to work on the development of an action plan for the holistic and quality development of youth work in Cyprus. As previously mentioned in the forthcoming policy developments, the Ministry is also in the process of developing a mechanism for validation and recognition of non-formal and informal learning (including the sectors of volunteerism and youth).
The Ministry of Education, Culture, 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.