The 2018 Education and training monitor report was presented by the Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus and the Ministry of Education and Culture (MoEC) at a special event that took place at the EU House in November.
The main findings of the 2018 Monitor were presented alongside the findings specifically related to Cyprus by the country analyst of the Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, Dr. Ulrike Pisiotis. The results of the report are currently being discussed by the Parliamentary Committee on Educational Affairs and Culture.
The main challenges that education faces in Cyprus were pointed out in the report. Public spending on education remained high, against low effectiveness and efficiency of the education system. Early school leaving rose in 2017, while VET participation and VET graduate employability remained low. Adult learning participation remained below the EU average. Tertiary level attainment continued to be high overall, but over-qualification remained an issue; graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are under-represented.
Experts from the MoEC presented and discussed solutions at the event, addressing the challenges highlighted by the report, with particular focus on issues that affect VET.
The introduction of key performance indicators and activity-based budgeting were proposed to tackle high public spending and low effectiveness. This would make funding allocation subject to efficient performance attested by and continuous monitoring.
In discussing low scores in STEM subjects it was suggested that an interdepartmental committee should be formed to establish a strategic action plan for the MoEC. The plan should set out concrete actions for all education sub-systems and aim for the overall improvement of STEM skills. Any proposed actions should be subject to continuous assessment and adjusted according to the results of the evaluation.
The increasing number of early school leavers could be tackled through school and social inclusion measures and by creating and implementing a non-discrimination code of conduct in schools. Greek language courses should be offered more often to students of migrant background and lower and upper secondary curricula should be reviewed.
Other challenges explicitly related to VET, such as low VET participation and low VET graduate employability, are currently being tackled through the Strategic plan for the development of technical and vocational education 2015-20. The revised programmes offered at evening technical schools, the New modern apprenticeship and the Post-secondary institutes for VET, which were recently accredited by the Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education as tertiary level programmes, have contributed to the further development and progress of VET, especially at secondary VET level. Positive results to date suggest that focus on the strict implementation of the strategic plan should remain unchanged.