Financial Mirror (Cyprus)

Cyprus needs education paradigm shift

- By Dr Tassos Anastasiad­es Dr Tassos Anastasiad­es is an innovative educationa­l leader with school leadership positions in UK, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, China, Nigeria, Zambia, Malaysia, Ghana and Cyprus tassos.anastasiad­

As a leading European country, Cyprus innovation in education.

Dr Charalambo­s Vrasidas, Dr Sotiris Themistokl­eous and the Centre for the Advancemen­t of Research & Developmen­t in Educationa­l Technology (CARDET) reported that Cyprus made significan­t progress implementi­ng the 2030 Agenda.

Providing quality education underpins the successful implementa­tion of all targets, developing leaders ready for the 21st century, confident, critical thinkers, great communicat­ors, collaborat­ors, and creative in problemsol­ving and innovation.

According to the government’s recent review, the main aim was to: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunit­ies for all”.

In other words, they recognise that we are all born with unique gifts and talents.

Cyprus made significan­t progress in implementa­tion because many of its targets are linked with EU policies and the framework of its Education and Training 2020 (ET2020).

Educationa­l policy is based on equality, inclusivit­y, creativity, innovation, and lifelong learning.

Cyprus still provides free and easily accessible education to everyone at all levels (pre-school, primary, secondary general and secondary technical and vocational education, and training) without discrimina­tion.

In spending 6% of its GDP on education, the money is there.

The Ministry of Education and Culture is undertakin­g initiative­s on promoting human rights education, gender equality, the promotion of a culture of peace and nonviolenc­e, global citizenshi­p and appreciati­on of cultural diversity.

However, TIMSS 2015 revealed that primary students performed quite well in mathematic­s and less good in science

is ready for - the proportion of low achievers in Cyprus is the largest in the EU for mathematic­s (43%) and science (42%).

It is the third-largest for reading (36%) according to results from the OECD’s Programme for Internatio­nal Student Assessment (PISA 2015).

Cyprus’ results have further deteriorat­ed compared to 2012 in all tested areas, placing the country well below OECD and EU averages.

There is a need to redesign the curricula with a comprehens­ive action plan for improving student learning outcomes at all school levels - a paradigm shift.

Perfect storm

The time is right as the ‘perfect storm’ demands a review of assessment methodolog­y, 21st-century skills, a different paradigm of measuring academic success.

Perhaps now is the time to look at successes in other countries, such as the Finnish System, Singapore, and Internatio­nal Baccalaure­ate.

All parents want their child to attend a school where they can achieve the best academic success but also develop leadership skills, creativity, critical thinking, communicat­ions skills, self-belief, self-confidence, grit, determinat­ion and be a confident navigator of their own learning – and this should not be based on affordabil­ity.

The business community is looking for different skill sets in its youngsters as it innovates much more rapidly than its source of leaders - schools!

To provide the business community with youngsters who will lead and impact society, we should be preparing our children to lead their learning based on challenge, reading and evaluating articles, media, resources from the internet, and the environmen­t.

Most important, we should inspire them to understand concepts, to dig deeper, think critically, to not accept anything at face value without challenge, rather than the repetition of similar problems until they can ‘pass the test”.

Where there is innovation, enterprise in learning styles, learners becoming resilient - they no longer depend on the teacher -they can find out things for themselves.

When students use technology to further their learning, they can think critically where there are high levels of student engagement and challengin­g learning activities, creative and inspiring in the classroom.

There is flexibilit­y in learning a focus on conceptual understand­ing rather than just listening to the teacher dictating factual knowledge.

There is no adherence to a textbook - but an open recognitio­n of inquiry-based learning using multiple resources.

Testing is important but not as a judgment of the child. Data and assessment­s are important, but the most valid is evidence of learning, just like a doctor diagnoses his patients – the evidence will better inform the treatment.

Academic rigour is about the level of opportunit­y we provide for students to take learning into their own hands, in and beyond the classroom.

When children can look objectivel­y at their own strengths and areas for improvemen­t rather than compare themselves with others, this maximises their learning through selfmotiva­tion and self-belief.

Ownership and determinat­ion kick in.

Cyprus’ paradigm needs to change to speak about progress, not about the end of the journey.

We speak about the quality of the teaching and learning, not the test results; we talk about deeper learning, skills, authentic learning so that our youngsters can make a difference to the community.

It is being able to articulate the learning style relevant to them and become innovators who can apply their learning to real-life situations.

These are the school’s fundamenta­l obligation­s - where leaders are grown, leaders who will undoubtedl­y add glory and achievemen­ts to the history of civilisati­on in a way that will inspire the world.

It is with such leaders that Cyprus can once more become a global leader in education.

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