8 minute read


Secondary Education

Public general secondary education is divided into two cycles, the Gymnasium and the Lyceum, which provide a six-year course to children in the 11 to 17 age group. Secondary education has become compulsory up to the third year of gymnasium, and has been free for both cycles since 1985. The U.S. reader should be mindful that gymnasium has a different meaning in Europe. A student who attends a gymnasium will be studying at a level equivalent to the U.S. high school junior and senior (Bradshaw 1993).

The lower cycle comprises the first three years of secondary education, during which all pupils follow a common course of general education. The second cycle, which comprises the last three years of secondary education, is offered either in the Lyceum of Elective Subjects or in the technical/vocational schools. Pupils are assisted in making their choice by the vocational guidance services. At the Lyceum of Elective Subjects there are three categories of subjects: the subjects of the main core, which have to be attended by all pupils, specialization subjects, and supplementary subjects, which are elective. Although pupils are in principle free to choose any of the elective subjects, in practice there are five main combinations. These are combinations with emphasis on classical studies, sciences, economics, commercial subjects and subjects related to skills for office professions, or foreign languages.

In September 1995 the Department of Secondary Education introduced educational system reform on an experimental basis in three Lycea in Nicosia. This step was taken in connection with the change from the Lyceum of elective subjects to the unified Lyceum, in order to combine secondary general with secondary technical education. The goal is that the unification cost will not be unbearable for the public sector and will not prejudice technical education.

Northern Cyprus: In Northern Cyprus secondary education is designed for the 16 to 18 age group at high schools known as lycees and vocational schools. The technical and vocational schools are comprised of commercial lycees, technical training schools, agricultural vocational school, the school of nursing and midwifery, and the tourism and hotel management and catering school.

Vocational & Technical Education: Since independence from Britain in 1960, the establishment and organization of technical education in Cyprus has been one of the primary concerns of the Cyprus government (Bradshaw 1993). Seen as a contributing factor in the economic progress of the island, technical education was implemented to meet the needs of the newly independent country. During the first 30 years, 11 technical schools were established. The A Technical Schools in Nicosia and Limassol began under British administration in 1956. The Agriculture School opened in 1959 at Morphou. The Technical School at Xeros was begun in 1961. The B Technical School and Dianellos Technical School in Larnaca started in 1962, as did the Morphou and Kyrenia Commercial Schools. The Technical School in Polis and The Famagusta Technical School began in 1963. The Technical School in Paphos began in 1969. The next school, opened in 1976, was the B Technical School in Limmasol. Lazaros Technical School opened in 1980 in Larnaca, followed in 1981 by Makarios in Nicosia. The Hotel and Catering School at Paralimni opened in 1984, and, finally, the Hotel and Catering School at Limmasol opened in 1987. Before 1959 the British colonial government operated four bicommunal technical schools: apprentice schools in Nicosia, Limassol, and Lefka, and a junior preparatory school in Nicosia (Bradshaw 1993).

According to Bradshaw (1993), who worked with the Fulbright-Hayes Commission in Cyprus from January to July 1991, technical education program development has passed through a number of developmental stages. An overview of each of the six stages follows.

During the initial stage, which immediately followed independence in 1960 to 1961, the basic aims of technical education were the continuation of the traditional humanistic and cultural scope of education, and the training of suitably skilled manpower for the emerging Cyprus industries (Bradshaw 1993). This education was offered at two levels, or sections—a four-year and a six-year program. During the initial years, general education was offered in both programs—two years of general education in the four-year program and three years of general education in the six-year program. Basic technical subjects were introduced in addition to the general education classes. During the second phase of the programs, emphasis was given to the technical subjects, while the percentage of time focused on general education was reduced (Bradshaw 1993).

The second developmental stage evolved in 1964, based on assessment of the implementation of the two types of programs of technical education for four years. More general education was assigned to the first two-year cycle in the four-year program, thus reducing the percentage of time for technical subjects.

The third developmental stage, initiated in 1967, was based on the prevailing trends in Europe and on the demands of the industries and the people of Cyprus. These pressures necessitated partial revision of the first cycle of the four-year program, increasing it to three years, thereby making the program a five-year program. The first three years became identical to the first three years of the six-year program, and identical to the gymnasia curricula (secondary schools). This development meant that students could choose the type of school they wanted to attend after completing the first cycle (Bradshaw 1993).

The political division of Cyprus in 1974 interrupted the fourth developmental stage that was introduced in 1972 and interfered with the evaluation of the reforms of 1972 and the assessment of the programs, as well as the functioning of the programs. The fourth stage was not implemented until 1976, and was based on the expansion of technical education; study of problems and functions of the technical schools; and the consideration of worldwide trends in education (i.e., equal opportunity). The following pattern was developed for implementation:

  1. Technical education was promoted as one unit, the second cycle having a three-year program (with the exception of hotel and catering curricula and the dressmaking curricula, which remained two-year programs).
  2. Broad, basic training in groups of related specializations during Class IV, followed by greater depth in the specialty for the following two years.
  3. The education and training offered to the students of classes IV, V, and VI were aimed at achieving a predetermined level of competence. (Bradshaw 1993)

After the division, the technical schools at Xeros (1961) and Famagusta were no longer available to Greek Cypriots because they were in the areas secured by the Turkish Army. "The loss of these two schools was especially severe... as they were large, well-equipped, modern facilities" (Bradshaw 1993). Following the division, the refugee students were distributed to the remaining technical schools. Overcapacity necessitated that all technical schools except those at Paphos and Polis operate both mornings and afternoons, which continued for four years, with Limassol continuing the two-shift basis until 1982. Enrollment continued to rise during this stage at a higher percentage than increases before the division of Cyprus.

Based in part on the determination that the unification of the vocational and technical sections had been made at the expense of the strengths of each, modifications were made and the fifth developmental stage was implemented as follows. After completing gymnasium, pupils could enroll in class IV in the technical and the vocational schools. Class IV was common to all students, but they were divided according to their interests into mechanical, electrical, or building and construction. During this year, the students were each provided with opportunities to gain extensive technical knowledge and training in their area of interest so they could discover their inclination and capabilities. At the end of class IV, students could choose either the vocational or technical section according to their test results in math, physics, chemistry, and technology. Special emphasis was given (technician level) to theory for the technical section, whereas the vocational program (craft level) had an emphasis on workshop training. The course duration was three years, the first common year followed by two years of technical, specialized education. The vocational students could leave school after one year of specialization. However, the vocational students who completed three years of specialization could sit for the technical section certificate exam.

Students who had completed two years could choose to attend afternoon or evening class to prepare for the certificate exam (Bradshaw 1993). The sixth developmental stage, determined by the Education Council at the Ministry of Education in 1976 and implemented in 1978, focused on allowing more flexibility in technical education and making that education available to all interested students. "The curriculum would allow those leaving school to continue their education and professional development, and to stay current in their specialization . . . [and] satisfy the needs of industry" (Bradshaw 1993).

The new structure provided for vocational and technical sections in all the Cyprus technical schools and required each course syllabus to be based on behavioral objectives. The technical section offered a three-year curriculum with an emphasis on mathematics, the sciences, and a technology of specialization. Graduates could be employed as technicians in industry or pursue further studies (for which they met the qualifications) in colleges and universities. The technical section had five branches, each with one or more specialization: mechanical engineering, with a specialization as a machinist-fitter or in automobile mechanics; electrical engineering, with specializations in electrical installations, electronics, and computers; building, with a specialization as a technical assistant; graphic arts, with a specialization in graphic design and interior decoration; and fashion design, with a specialization in garment design and construction (Bradshaw 1993).

The vocational section offered a two-year curriculum with an emphasis on acquiring skills by increasing the percentage of time spent in workshop practice. An optional sixth year offered on-the-job-training, with either one-third or twp-thirds industry/school attendance. Graduates could be employed as craftspersons in industry. In addition, the vocational student could move to the technical curriculum after passing prescribed examinations. By 1982, there were six vocational branches: mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, building and construction, hotel and catering, dressmaking, and pottery (Bradshaw 1993).

Since gaining independence from Britain, Cyprus has stressed the college preparatory course in both the gymnasium and vocational/technical curriculum, with the latter making a transition toward a comprehensive education curriculum (Bradshaw 1993). Since 1976, fewer changes have been made in technical education. Additional coursework has been offered in foundry, agriculture machinery, joinery, carpentry, graphic design technology, fashion design, garment construction, drafting, goldsmithing and silversmithing, building science and technology, shoemaking, and vocational catering and waiting, with increased space for hotel catering and graphic arts curricula. The pottery and ceramics program was dropped due to low enrollment.

An issue regarding technical education should be noted. All males are required to spend two years in the national military service after completion of secondary school. Given how quickly technical education changes and advances, this is problematic for the students who achieve a technical education and then are forced to postpone work to complete their two years of military service.

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceCyprus - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education