Cyprus

Distance learning the way to go, says education minister 

Distance learning through the use of technology is the way to go in order to tackle problems posed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to the education system, according to Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou.

Speaking during a joint conference held at the education ministry headquarters on Thursday with the Deputy minister for Research, Innovation and Digital Policy Kyriakos Kokkinos and the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Educational Affairs and Culture Kyriakos Hadjiyiannis, Prodromou said the vast majority of teachers in Cyprus are ready to implement distance learning.

“This is a big step for the education system in our country,” he said. “Our schools and our students have been heavily affected by the virus. We need to adapt to the current times in order to ensure that our children receive the education they deserve.

“We also need to face our reservations and our hesitations regarding this new system together.”

The education minister announced that an event outlining how distance learning will work in the country will be organised at some point in November. The specific date, however, was not revealed during the conference.

“During the event we will outline specifically how distance learning will work in schools and explain how we will transfer certain practices common to universities to public schools,” Prodromou said.

Moreover, he said that, in the following days, he intends to visit Frederick University, the University of Cyprus and the Open University to see in person how distance learning works, adding that he will extend an invitation to representatives of teachers’ unions Oelmek, Oltek and Poed.

“This way, they will be able to see with their own eyes that what we are planning to do in public schools is no different from what is happening in our universities and in schools abroad.”

Speaking after Prodromou, Hadjiyiannis assured that the House Education Committee is also ready to contribute in every possible way in order to clear all reasonable doubts on distance learning.

“Digitalising our children’s education is paramount at this time and it is only right that there should be a national strategy about it in place,” he said.

“We must embrace the situation and create the conditions for distance learning to succeed in public schools.”

Finally, Kokkinos added that distance learning through digital technology is an integral part of what can be considered an educational reform.

“The pandemic is giving us a golden opportunity to accelerate the introduction digital technology in the educational system in Cyprus,” he said.

“However, this requires the cooperation and the good will of everyone involved. I can say that teachers have exceeded all our expectations and that they have proven to be capable of using technology in schools.”

Kokkinos added that schools are currently being upgraded with improved internet connectivity in order to exploit the full potential of digital technologies.

“There are still some other technical issues we have to sort out, like the number of computers available on the market in Cyprus or the obsolete state of some distance learning equipment, but within the next month and a half, all problems should be resolved.”

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