In Cyprus there are 170 Private Kindergartens, 30 Private Primary Schools and 39 Private Secondary Schools, which are in operation and are governed by the Private Schools Laws of 1971 to 2012.
Three Types of Schools
- Of the same type, includes Private Schools that follow without exception the curriculum of the existing types of Public Schools.
- The similar types, which includes Private Schools for which their curriculum including their lessons and material follow two thirds of the existing types of Public Schools programme.
- The different types, these include the Private Schools which do not fall into any of the above categories.
Of the 39 registered Private Secondary Schools, 16 are located in Nicosia, 15 in Limassol, 3 in Larnaca, 2 in Famagusta (free area) and 3 in Paphos.
Statistically the national origin of the pupils in secondary education are 74% Cypriot, 8% EU pupils and 18% from Third Countries. When the division is applied by areas, in Limassol, 52% of the pupils are Cypriots, 12.8% are EU pupils and 34.3% from Third Countries. In Paphos 46% are pupils from Third Countries, 32% are from the EU and only 22% are Cypriot pupils. In Larnaca, the free area of Famagusta and in Nicosia, the percentage of Cypriot students reach up to 90%.
Pupils who choose to attend Private Schools pay tuition fees. However the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth grants free of charge to the children of Private Schools as well as to Public Schools their textbooks that are issued by the Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs of Greece and the Cyprus Programme Development Agency (of course this applies to students who follow the Greek-language education program).
Undoubtedly, students who choose to attend Private Schools have a higher financial burden than students attending Public Schools, but there is a substantial difference as indicated below:
The difference lies in the fact that the expenditure per pupil for Public Education is shared by all taxpayers, whereas in the case of Private Schools, private education is reliant on household expenditure and financing.
As a result, households which choose to send their children for private education incur overall the highest expenditure for education since they are normally also taxed on costs for the public education system. In essence they ‘double pay’ on their children’s education. Therefore, an increase in expenditure on public education is more burdensome for households who opt for private education. Therefore, displacing some of the demand for private education, not because its costs have increased, but rather because it has increased in public education costs.
Internal Regulations for the Operation of a Private Primary School
Every Private School, regardless of its type, must, comply with the Private Schools Act and must conform in accordance with the approved operating regulations which are consistent with the structure, content and general philosophy of the Public Schools.
Teaching Staff Qualifications
According to the applicable legislation, the Headmaster/Principal and the teaching staff of Private Schools ofthe same or similar type must possess the same academic qualifications as required for the Headmaster/Principal and the teaching staff of Public Schools. The Headteacher must have at least five years' experience in Public Schools or in approved Private Schools in Cyprus or any other country.
The Headteacher/Principal and teaching staff of Private Schools may not possess the qualifications required for Public School teaching staff, however, the provision of a Certificate of Equivalence from the Cyprus Council of Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications (ΚΥ.Σ.Α.Τ.Σ) in education, is a requirement. The Director may be qualified for recruitment, but approval is required from the relevant authority.
The owner(s) as well as the headmaster/principal(s) and the teaching staff of Private Schools are obliged to allow authorised officers from the Cyprus Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth (Υ.Π.Π.Α.Ν) to enter the school premises and classes during the schools operating hours for inspection purposes. After the inspection, a detailed report is prepared, and is included in the schools file to be held with the Cyprus Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth (Υ.Π.Π.Α.Ν)
We see an increasing trend in demand and interest in Private Schools. However, many more parents and children could enjoy the benefits of Private schools if the Government paid part/or subsidised their tuition fees. For example, approximately 8% of Primary School pupils and 18% in Secondary Education attend Private Schools. The rest of the children attend Public Schools at a significant Government cost. Given the requirement for the development and the maintenance costs required by schools, the expenses of Public Schools rise considerably. For Secondary and Technical Education, the cost per student exceeds €10,000. If the approximately 15.000 students attending Private Primary and Secondary Education attended the Public Schools Education sector, the Government’s finances would incur an additional cost of more than €150,000,000
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