Cyprus - Article 24

Education systems

Equal access to national education, vocational training and lifelong learning systems

Educational settings - mainstream education
Education settings - special education
Collaboration between both systems

Teaching of compensatory skills made necessary by vision loss

Provision of accessible text books and other educational material

Provision of assistive technology

 

1. Equal access to:

1.1. National education system

The Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus: According to Article 20 Every person has the right to receive standard quality and free primary education, which is compulsory for all citizens. Moreover, Article 28 of the Constitution secures the non-discrimination among all citizens regarding race, language, sex, political or other convictions, national or social descent, birth, color, wealth, social class or on any grounds whatsoever.

Compulsory Education Law 24(1)/1993: According to this Law parents are obliged to register their children at a school within their educational region, independently of whether they reside in the island illegally or not, education is compulsory and free in public schools for all citizens until the age of 15.

The 113(1)/1999 Special Education Law, the Mechanisms for Early Detection of Children with Special Needs [185(I)2001] and Regulations for Education and Training of Children with Special Needs[186(I)2001], which support the application of the Law.: The113(1)/1999 Law is the legislative framework which makes the State responsible to support the integration of children with disabilities in mainstream education by any means from the age of three. Particularly, the above mentioned Law, regulates the detection of children with special educational needs; their assessment and the development of an individualized educational program; their placement in the most appropriate educational setting with provision of both teachers and educational resources to meet their needs and for the ongoing evaluation of the child's progress. In the regulations it is reported that all schools (public or private) in which children with disabilities study, should fulfill the building specifications that are defined by the regulation. Consequently, the State is responsible for making school buildings accessible for pupils with disabilities.

The L127(1)/2000 law providing for Persons with Disabilities: this Law provides in general for the protection of disabled people, including the safeguarding of equal rights and equal opportunities and the promotion of their social and economic integration. The Law also lays down the principal that the State should aim at ensuring that appropriate vocational rehabilitation measures are made available to all categories of disabled people. Specifically, it provides measures in the field of employment including recruitment, promotion in employment, vocational rehabilitation within the enterprise, measures in regard to communication and information etc.

The Amending Law 57(1)/2004: the Law prohibits any kind of discrimination, direct or indirect, as regards promotion, access to all types and all levels of vocational guidance, vocational training and professional experience etc. The Law also permits positive measures which aim at the prevention and counterbalancing of disadvantages related to disability.

Emphasis is placed on the education of almost all children with special needs within mainstream schools. Parallel to this there exists the St. Barnabas School for the Blind in Nicosia, Cyprus, which is a multi-dynamic centre providing a wide range of services that include:

  • A unit for children with multiple disabilities including visual impairment.
  • A telephony department (the only one provided for by the State).
  • Training in the use of electronic media.
  • Tape-recordings and transcriptions of teaching and other material into Braille.
  • An early intervention programme for children with visual impairments and their families.
  • Support services for children with visual impairments attending mainstream educational settings.
  • Training programmes for adults as well as special individual programmes.

1.2. National vocational training and lifelong learning systems

Appointment of trained Blind Telephone operators to the Post of Telephone Operator in the Public Sector (Special Provisions) Law of 1998 (L. 17/1988): persons with visual disabilities, falling under the provisions of the Law have exclusive priority for appointment to all posts of telephone operators in the public sector. The same Law provides that in case of lack of qualified candidates with visual disabilities, the appointing boards or authorities will prefer candidates with other disabilities.

The Training and Education of Children with Disabilities Law (113(1)/1999): it is clarified in article 29(c) that the School for the Blind will continue its services for the blind, irrespective of age, for their social integration, training and vocational rehabilitation.

Law L103(1)/2000 for the establishment of Special Fund for the Center for Vocational Rehabilitation of the Disabled: In accordance with the Law a special fund has been established for the promotion of the vocational rehabilitation and employment of persons with disability with the Center and operation of certain programs and other activities within the frame of the general policy of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance. The Vocational Rehabilitation Center trains people with learning difficulties and disabled people to become professionally active and enter the work force.

The Scheme for the occupational training of persons with disabilities in areas which are not provided by the Center for the Vocational Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities. The scheme aims at widening the opportunities of the training and further education of persons with disabilities in areas and at levels not provided by the above Center. This is achieved on the basis of individual programmes in Training Institutions or Enterprises in the public or private sector. These training and employment programmes contribute to the facilitating of the employment or occupational development of the interested persons with disability.

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2. Educational settings

2.1. Mainstream education (please specify what support measures if any)

Many factors have assisted integration, mainly the increased number of special educators and peripatetic teachers, public acceptance campaigns, staff seminars, setting up of special classes in mainstream schools and employment of teaching aids. Special arrangements have also been introduced for pupils with special needs during the final, external examinations organized by the Ministry of Education and Culture. With the 'Training and Education of Children with Special Needs' Law of 1999, support services were upgraded. Within the framework of this programme, educational, psychological and social support services are provided to the children, their families and the school unit the child attends.

2.1.1. Primary

The 113(1)/1999 Special Education Law, the Mechanisms for Early Detection of Children with Special Needs and [185(I)2001] Regulations for Education and Training of Children with Special Needs[186(I)2001], which support the application of the Law: The majority of children with special educational needs are educated within the mainstream classroom. Special educational provision is also given in Special Units at mainstream schools. These children are assigned to a mainstream class where they can attend integrated lessons and participate in celebratory or festive events. The educational and other needs of children in Primary Schools, and Special Units in Primary Schools and in Special Schools are being met through programmes for Special Education. Teachers of various specialties (teachers for intellectual, sentimental and other problems, teachers for the deaf, the blind, special gymnastics, music therapy, work therapy, speech therapy, educational psychology, audiology and physiotherapy), work to support and meet the educational needs of children with disabilities. Unless there are exceptional circumstances these services should be provided with all necessary adaptations and resources.

2.1.2. Secondary

The 113(1)/1999 Special Education Law, the Mechanisms for Early Detection of Children with Special Needs and [185(I)2001] Regulations for Education and Training of Children with Special Needs[186(I)2001], which support the application of the Law: The majority of children with special educational needs are educated within the mainstream classroom. Special educational provision is also given in Special Units at mainstream schools. These children are assigned to a mainstream class where they can attend integrated lessons and participate in celebratory or festive events.

2.1.3. University

Laws 113 (I)/1999 and Regulations for Education and Training of Children with Special Needs [186/2001] set out the legal framework which makes it mandatory for every higher education institute to respond to the needs of every student with disabilities registered at the institution as regards to his/her education, examinations, housing, psychological support etc.

The University of Cyprus Regulations 1992 - 1998, also provide for the support of students with disabilities. Specifically, the University of Cyprus may arrange special examinations for students with disabilities and in addition, within the framework of the abovementioned regulations, it is mandatory for the University to offer the necessary infrastructure for persons with disabilities.

Private Institutions of Higher Education are encouraged to state in their internal regulations that they adhere to the policy of non-discrimination in admitting their students without reference to race, colour, religion, gender, disability or national origin.

2.1.4. Vocational training and lifelong learning

In article 33 of the Regulations of 'Training and Education of Children with Special Needs' Law of 1999, provision is made for services to adults and programmes are developed that help the emancipation of visually impaired individuals.

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2.2. Special education

The percentage of students who fall outside mainstream education is 0.035 %. This percentage concerns only students who receive education at home.

2.2.1. Primary

The 113(1)/1999 Special Education Law, the Mechanisms for Early Detection of Children with Special Needs and [185(I)2001] Regulations for Education and Training of Children with Special Needs[186(I)2001], which support the application of the Law: Children with severe difficulties are educated in special schools, which are equipped with the appropriate staff (psychologists, speech therapists, doctors, physiotherapists and other specialists as well as auxiliary staff) in order to support and provide essential means to achieve progress.

The educational and other needs of children in Primary Schools, and Special Units in Primary Schools and in Special Schools are being met through programmes for Special Education. Teachers of various specialties (teachers for intellectual, sentimental and other problems, teachers for the deaf, the blind, special gymnastics, music therapy, work therapy, speech therapy, educational psychology, audiology and physiotherapy), work to support and meet the educational needs of children with disabilities.

2.2.2. Secondary

See primary (first paragraph) above.

2.2.3. University

2.2.4. Vocational training and lifelong learning

The Scheme for the occupational training of persons with disabilities in areas which are not provided by the Center for the Vocational Rehabilitation of Persons with Disability aims at widening the opportunities of the training and further education of persons with disability in areas and at levels not provided by the above Center. This is achieved on the basis of individual programmes in Training Institutions or Enterprises in the public or private sector. These training and employment programmes contribute to facilitating the employment or occupational development of people with disabilities.

Law L103(1)/2000 for the establishment of Special Fund for the Center for Vocational Rehabilitation of the Disabled: The Vocational Rehabilitation Center trains people with learning difficulties and disabled people to become professionally active and enter the work force.

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2.3. Collaboration between both systems

2.3.1. Primary

The Saint Barnabas School for the Blind is the only regional special school for children with visual impairments in Cyprus, which provides services to children with visual impairments that are integrated into mainstream schools.

In the mainstream school where a special educator is part of the child's education, the special educator and the class teacher should cooperate and interact in the development and delivery of a personalised education programme for the child. (L. 113(1)/1999)

2.3.2. Secondary

See Primary

2.3.3. University

2.3.4. Vocational training and lifelong learning

The Saint Barnabas School for the Blind also provides services to adults with visual impairments requiring specialist assistance or guidance.

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3. Teaching of compensatory skills made necessary by vision loss

At the St. Barnabas School for the Blind there is systematic training at Nursery and Elementary School in the following areas:

  • Body awareness.
  • Various concepts.
  • Development of Senses.
  • Sighted guide skills.
  • Guided indoor and outdoor routes.
  • Independent indoor routes by using trailing and landmarks.
  • Training in the use of the long cane.
  • Children are taught several useful routes at the School premises, at home and in housing areas and later at the mainstream school which they are to attend.

3.1. Subjects (Braille, computer, daily-living skills, mobility, etc.)

3.2. Training and certificates for visually impaired teachers (Braille, computer, daily-living skills, mobility, etc.)

3.3. Training and certificates for visually impaired students (Braille, computer, daily-living skills, mobility, etc.)

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4. Provision of accessible text books and other educational material

4.1. Provision of the basic documents

4.2. Adaptation and transcription of the documents

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5. Provision of assistive technology

5.1. Primary

5.2. Secondary

5.3. University

5.4. Vocational training and lifelong learning

(Sources - http://www.schools.ac.cy/schoolfortheblind/index_en.html and
http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education/eurydice/index_en.php
Christakis Nicolaides, President, Pancyprian Organization of the Blind )

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