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Teaching Profession

Preservice Teacher Training: Admission standards to the elementary education major at the University of Cyprus have been compared to those at U.S. institutions and were determined to be higher (Papanastasiou & Papanastasiou 1997). In order to be admitted to the Department of Education at the University of Cyprus, students have to compete with approximately 2,000 other candidates in the fiercely competitive University Entrance Examinations. Among those 2,000 candidates, only 150 are admitted to the elementary education program every year.

Since these examinations are highly competitive, the students that eventually get these positions are the best candidates. These students rank among the top 10 percent of the candidates that want to enter the elementary education major (Papanastasiou 1989).

At least one study of the factors influencing students' decisions to major in elementary education suggested that the external, extrinsic factors were the most compelling: high salaries, variety of benefits, guaranteed employment after graduation, job security, multiple job possibilities, and long vacations (Papanastasiou & Papanastasiou 1997). Intrinsic factors were reported to be the most compelling for a U.S. sample of elementary education majors who focused on the love of working with and teaching children. Certainly the national context for these disparate groups would need to be considered in applying the findings.

Cypriot preprimary and primary student teachers are trained through courses equivalent to a four-year bachelor's degree in education. However, neither the Pedagogical Academy of Cyprus nor the Department of Education at the University of Cyprus requires any compulsory course on curriculum development (Kyriakides 1999). The lack of emphasis on pedagogy is echoed at the secondary level, as well. To become a secondary teacher, the candidate must obtain a university degree related to the specific subject to be taught. Initial teacher training is not required.

Initial teacher training has an optional element on special needs, and teachers in regular schools can attend various in-service training courses about different aspects of special needs. Teachers specializing in special education may need to travel abroad for extended training in special education but have in-service training opportunities within Cyprus (UNESCO 1995).

In-Service Teacher Training: The in-service teacher training (INSET) of primary and secondary school teachers is the task of the Pedagogical Institute. There is no school-based INSET, though the argument for such has been provided for some time. Optional courses provided by the Pedagogical Institute are the main kind offered by INSET. The seminars are primarily held in the afternoon and may be difficult for teachers to attend. Moreover, the decision to attend these courses seems to be purely individual, rather than as part of an educational plan or building team outcome. This seems to support the interpretation that there is a lack of coherent educational planning in each school (Kyriakides 1999).

All secondary teachers must undergo in-service training during the first year of their probationary period. This compulsory training is provided by the Pedagogical Institute. Reduced teaching hours accommodate the weekly training. While the 1997 UNESCO report, "Appraisal Study on the Cyprus Education System," reported that INSET offered a balance between pedagogical considerations and subject teaching, Kyriakides's 1999 review of the model contested this claim because curriculum change and curriculum reform were not included. In addition, topics like school effectiveness and school improvement were not offered. Kyriakides called for professional development that linked teachers to the process of curriculum change.

In November 1999 the Ministry of Education and Culture, committed to the upgrading of educational provisions in public schools in Cyprus, organized an international workshop called The Teaching of Modern Languages to Mixed Ability Classes. The workshop, organized in collaboration with the European Center of Modern Languages of the Council of Europe (in Graz, Austria), with the assistance of the British Council, Goethe Institute, and other organizations, was held in No- vember 1999 in Nicosia. It was attended by 25 delegates from European countries with 15 local participants, mainly foreign language teachers at the secondary level. The aims of the workshop were to provide participants with input regarding the nature of mixed ability teaching and the key elements involved; examine the complex interaction of pupils, teachers, and materials in instruction so as to promote effective learning and teaching strategies; explore ways of assessing learners' performance in mixed ability classes; and encourage the exchange of relevant ideas and successful practices among foreign language teachers (Christodoulou 1999).

The Minister of Education and Culture, Ouranios Loannides, addressed the 30th session of the UNESCO General Conference (October to November 1999) in Paris. Cyprus has been a member of this organization since 1961 and has participated actively in its programs in the fields of education, science, and culture. In his address, the minister referred to Major Areas of the Proposed Program for the period 1999-2001. Concerning Major Program I, which deals with education for all throughout life, Loannides pointed out that illiteracy on the island has been eradicated, with attendance in primary and secondary education at 100 percent while approximately 60 percent of school graduates continue their studies beyond secondary level. Measures have been adopted for enhancing adult education, such as evening schools, institutes for further education, and an open university. Concerning Major Program II, which deals with the sciences in the service of development, the minister reported that a new type of school will be introduced where time allocated to science education is increased and more emphasis is placed on experimental and practical work (Christodoulou 1999).

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