Private education is a term often used to be compared with public sector education. According to the most common definition, any form of education founded and wholly organised by individuals or non-governmental bodies (associations under private law) are considered to fall within the private sector. Within this sector, there is a distinction made between private education and grant-aided private education.
Whereas private education in its strictest sense of its meaning is entirely financed by persons or non-governmental bodies (associations under private law), grant-aided private education receives funding from public authorities. This funding may or may not be substantial and may cover various types of expenditure.
Depending on the country, either type of private education can be subject to certain forms of state control.
With regards the tuition fee increases in private schools, they have to be approved each year by the Ministry of Education. It should further beemphasised that parents have the right to know the tuition fees from the first year up to the final year. If a school needs to increase tuition fees due to investments (such as buildings, equipment, etc.) the Minister of Education should give his approval.
But what happens to parents who choose private education? Is there a subsidy from the State in the form of sponsorship?
Today, in the public primary schools, there are approximately 49,000 learners who also attend public secondary schools.
There are currently about 9,900 learners in private secondary schools, which are approximately 19% of all secondary school learners, and about 4,600 in private primary education, approximately 10% of all learners.
Private tuition fees range from €5,000 to €7,500 per annum and are well below the cost per learner in comparison to the public schools. The cost per learner in public education, according to the latest data from the Statistical Service, amounts to €6,308 per learner for primary education and €9,428 per learner for secondary education.
Therefore, for each learner who chooses to attend a private school the government saves €10,000 per annum.
In some European and Scandinavian countries each learner receives a money voucher for a certain amount which can be used for a public or a private school. Parents pay the difference accordingly.
Depending on the country, financial assistance can take the form of tax relief or allowances paid to families by the public authorities (at local or national level). In certain countries, grants and/or loans can also be awarded to learners, and thus effectively to their families.
My recommendation is the partialsubsidising of tuition fees to be available to all learners in Cyprus. The annual sum is estimated at €3.000 for Secondary level education and €2.000 for primary level education. The cost to the state for approximately 4,500 learners in primary education is estimated at €9 million and for the 10,000 learners in the Private Schools average €30 million, that is 27% of the €145 million that the state saves due to the existence of private education.
In this way Cyprus will be aligned with the policy followed in central Europe for the operation of private education, where private education relies actively either by providing subsidies to parents who choose private education or by tax exemptions.
The subsidy will give more parents and learners the right to choose between private and public education. The state will also save on spending on new extensions on existing buildings or new school buildings.
Also, the increased work of private schools will bring benefits to the state as a consequence of an increase in the amount of taxes on income and other relevant taxes. In addition, overwhelming tax evasion will be regulated.
Better educated children lead to better performing adults in general, which brings about a stronger community with more opportunity for everyone. It is a heart-breaking decision to have to make. Do you provide the best you can for your own children, or do you invest in the community and hope that your children get the best out of it? If you choose the former, should you not have to make up for it to those that have no option but the latter? Is that not what being a part of a community encompasses?
The content of this article intends to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought on each particular case.
Lawyer, Partner and Director of the Paphos Office of the Law Firm, Michael Kyprianou & Co LLC