6.7 Skills for innovation
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The curriculum of the school subject Design and Technology of Secondary General Education (Σχεδιασμός και Τεχνολογία Μέσης Γενικής Εκπαίδευσης) adheres to the principle that technology literate and competent pupils ought to possess a set of knowledge, skills and attitudes. The subject is taught at upper-secondary level and its curriculum was designed so that students acquire core skills of the 21st-century, such as problem solving, innovation, project management, creativity, critical thinking, etc.
The Design and Technology Advisors offer several training courses to in-service teachers (Εκπαιδευτικοί Μέσης Γενικής) and to potential teachers (Πρόγραμμα Επιμόρφωσης Υποψήφιων Καθηγητών Σχεδιασμού και Τεχνολογίας), they provide on-site support at schools and have developed relevant supportive teaching material that can be found in the following links - secondary education supportive materials (Διδακτικό Υλικό & Υποστηρικτικό Υλικό).
In addition, the Department of Educational Technology (DET) (Τομέας Εκπαιδευτικής Τεχνολογίας) (επίσημο βιβλιάριο) of the Pedagogical Institute - Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth implements programmes of continuing professional development in the areas of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), design research and practice, proposes new educational implementations and promotes innovations related to the use of new technologies in education. Every year, DET organises workshops, presentations and seminars in schools for pupils, teachers and parents, in the topics of:
- Use of ICT in teaching and learning
- Seminars for ICT teachers
- Workshops on robotics and programming
- Safe internet use
- Transversal and digital skills for pupils and teachers
On the website of DET, schools, teachers and students can also find useful materials and programmes related to the above-mentioned topics (Ψηφιακά Ικανό Σχολείο, Ψηφιακά ικανός Εκπαιδευτικός και μαθητής).
Αs it is reported in the Innovation in VET - Cyprus Report 2014, the Smart Specialisation Strategy for Cyprus was approved by the Council of Ministers in March 2015. Its goal is to boost innovation with the aim to achieve economic growth and prosperity. The strategy identifies priority sectors (e.g., Energy, Tourism, the Structured Environment/ Construction Industry, Transport/Marine, etc.) that are expected to contribute significantly to economic growth, while it refers to the value of VET and includes it in several actions.
For this reason, from the school year 2016/2017, there has been a revision in the existing curricula and development of new ones as well as a review of the fields of study and specialisations offered by Secondary Technical and Vocational Education (STVE) in order to become more attractive and relevant to labour market needs. All fields of study and specialisations in STVE (Κλάδοι και Ειδικότητες – Μέση Τεχνική και Επαγγελματική Εκπαίδευση) aim to support learners’ creativity and innovation by acquiring skills, such as critical thinking, idea generation, entrepreneurial mindset and problem-solving. Such skills will be enhanced by practical training in industry.
As for the pedagogical tools and support that STVE teachers are provided with, the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute offers seminars, trainings and conferences (Προγράμματα – Σεμινάρια) to all secondary vocational education teachers, just like the general secondary education teachers. In addition, there is an educational portal (Εκπαιδευτική Πύλη) which supports educators in various educational issues, such as internet, web tools, etc.
The promotion of innovation is of major importance in the National Youth Strategy 2017-2022 of the Youth Board of Cyprus (YBC). Under the action field of Education and Training, two priorities are devoted to the development of innovation, creativity, and innovative methods of teaching for young people. In addition, the YBC has introduced over the last years a number of initiatives for boosting innovation and related skills to all young people in the island. The most important are:
Youth Makerspace Larnaca has been created following the standards of Makerspaces formed by university institutions and communities abroad, and it provides young people with access to high quality and high-tech equipment for the development of prototypes and for the implementation of their business ideas. This project is implemented in cooperation with Larnaca Municipality. It was introduced to public in October 2017 at the Arts and Literature House in Larnaca and since 2018, it is hosted in a renovated building which used to be the residence of the British Commander in the colonial era. In this place, young people can learn about technology developments, crafts, creative production processes, they can share knowledge and skills and put them in action. A vast range of creative production is supported. Among others, the equipment consists of 3D printers, laser cutters, drones, virtual reality, robotics, Arduino, raspberry pi. At Makerspace one may attend various workshops on how to use the equipment provided, idea and project development workshops, etc. This place also operates as a Youth Entrepreneurship Development Centre, within the framework of YBC programme. Youth Makerspace Larnaca welcomes young people of 6-35 years old, as well as organised youth groups, schools, educational institutions, etc.
In addition, Mobile Makerspace is a specially designed mobile unit which carries similar equipment with Youth Makerspace Larnaca. Mobile Makerspace is built on the same principles as Youth Makerspace Larnaca and has similar objectives. Yet, it focuses more on young people with fewer opportunities, who live in isolated or remote areas and do not have the chance to visit Youth Makerspace Larnaca. Mobile Makerspace visits schools and organisations in rural or distant areas and offers workshops using their technological equipment.
The 2022 budget for the Youth Makerspace is €181.000, based on the Cyprus Government Gazette (Ο περί Προϋπολογισμού του Οργανισμού Νεολαίας του 2021 Νόμος του 2021).
The SΤΕΑΜers (Πρόγραμμα «The SΤΕΑΜers»)
The SΤΕΑΜers programme is based on the standards of S.T.E.A.M. Centres abroad. The initials S.T.E.A.M. refer to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics. The programme offers workshops in Robotics, Programming, Film Making, Photography, Graphic Design, Creative Writing, Music, Theatre and Art. The aim of the workshops is entertainment and learning, cultivation of expressiveness and creativity, as well as psycho-emotional empowerment and personal development of the participants. Participants can experiment and become familiar with new projects, but also to increase their imagination, create, acquire skills and cultivate their interests. The workshops target children and young people aged 6-35 years and are provided by professional trainers. The 2022 budget of the SΤΕΑΜers programme is €219 000, based on the Cyprus Government Gazette (Ο περί Προϋπολογισμού του Οργανισμού Νεολαίας του 2021 Νόμος του 2021).
The Youth Initiatives project grants activities organised by young people and youth organisations so that young people can have an active role in cultural, sport, political and social activities in Cyprus. (For more information, please also visit section 4.7. Under this project, there is a specific action (Action 7) targeting initiatives which foster innovation and creativity. The 2022 budget of the Youth Initiatives project is €420. 000, based on the Cyprus Government Gazette (Ο περί Προϋπολογισμού του Οργανισμού Νεολαίας του 2021 Νόμος του 2021). No specific mention is made for the allocated budget of Action 7.
Youth Leadership Academy (Καλοκαιρινή Σχολή Ηγεσίας και Δημιουργικότητας)
Since 2016, the YBC organised for 5 years the Summer Youth Leadership Academy with the attendance of young people aged 19-30 from all over Cyprus. The Academy’s aim is to empower young people who have a vision in positive change and social progress. Young participants are introduced to creative ways of thinking and to ways to develop and exhibit leadership skills in order to put their innovative ideas in action. Experienced trainers and facilitators help the participants develop their skills and acquire new knowledge and experiences. The budget for the Youth Leadership Academy is €15.000.