The education system in Cyprus starts with pre-primary, followed by primary, secondary and higher education. Since 2004 it became compulsory for children to attend pre-primary school (also known in Cyprus as Nursery Schools and Kindergartens) for a period of one year before admission to primary school. All schools are co-educational.
The latest figures from the Statistical Services (October 2009) show that a trend toward Cypriot pupils being sent to private school has grown each year since 1999, with 17.43% of middle and high school pupils attending private schools, of which there are 37 in operation, the majority of of them teaching in English.
There are three types of pre-primary Schools in Cyprus for children between the ages of three years, up to five years and eight months of age, and all must be approved by the Ministry of Education and Culture, which also supervises and regulates them. The three types are; Public Kindergarten, Community Kindergarten, and Private Kindergarten.
Public nursery schools are free for children aged between 3 years and 8 months to 4 years and 8 months (the compulsory attendance period), with tuition fees payable for children who are under that age. There are tuition fees to pay for attending Community Nursery Schools, the amount of which is determined by the Parents Association and are dependent on the schools financial obligations. Private Nursery Schools incur fees for admission and tuition of each child, the cost of which varies depending on the school.
All children have the right to register in a public nursery school, regardless of their nationality, if they are 3 years of age on 1st September of that year. However, they will only be accepted if places exist, and priority goes to children who have reached the age 4 years and 8 months, on 1st September. The registration, and applications for registration to public and community pre-school usually take place in the second week of January. At registration, a Cypriot child should have a birth certificate submitted, and a foreign child should have a certificate or document (passport) that has been issued by a competent authority, and verifies the child's date of birth to the satisfaction of the Ministry of Education and Culture.
Public Nursery Schools are open from 7:45 am to 1:05 pm, Monday to Friday, whilst Community Nursery Schools can extend their hours up to 2:45 pm, with some offering all day schooling. Public holidays are adhered to in Public Nursery Schools the same as in Primary Schools, however Community and Private Nursery Schools are not obliged to adhere to the same.
Education is compulsory for all children who have reached the age of 5 years and 8 months on 1st September of the year that their study will begin, up to the age of 15 years, or the end of study, whichever comes first. Education from the age of 12 to 18 years is classified as secondary education. When primary school is completed a child will receive a leaving certificate which is required for registration at secondary school.
Primary education at public schools is free, however parents are responsible for the food expenses of their child. The feeding program follows strict food ration which is agreed together by the Ministry and the parents, and is available from the school canteens. Private schools are not free, and the costs differ depending on the school.
Registration to public primary schools takes place in January, however the exact date is determined each year by the Minister of Education and Culture. Confirmation of registration normally takes place around the middle of June, but again the exact date is determined by the Minister. Children can be registered for primary school if they will have reached the age 5 years and 8 months on 1st September of the year of study. The school year begins on 1st September and ends on 31st August the following year. The same documents as detailed above (registration for pre-primary school) are needed for registration of each new child to primary school. Children must wear the relevant school uniform.
Lessons in private schools can be taught in English and / or Greek as well as other languages, whilst in public schools the following subjects are taught in Greek; Greek Language, Mathematics, Religious Studies, History, Geography, Science, English Language, Art, Music, Physical Education, Domestic Economics, Design and Technology.
Children move up a class each year according to their age, or during the school year if special reasons exist, and with the approval of the relevant inspector, but they cannot move up to a higher class than their age allows. In special cases, a child may be compelled to repeat a year, however this can only occur once during a child's primary education, with the approval of the relevant inspector, and the child's parents having been informed.
Public primary schools open from 7:45 am until 1:05 pm, private school hours may differ. More than 100 public schools now offer 'all day' voluntary school hours.
Public primary schools are obliged to close on all Cyprus public holidays and / or any holidays which the Ministry of Education and Culture declares a school holiday, however private school holidays may differ. Here are some of the known dates:
• October 1
• October 28
• December 23 – January 6
• January 30
• March 25
• April 1
• May 1
• Good Monday – Friday after Easter Week
• June 11
• Holy Spirit
• Green Monday
• Archbishop’s name day
• Feast of the Saint of community / parish
• Summer holidays: From the Saturday after the penultimate Friday of June up to the Sunday before the first Monday of September.
The Government of Cyprus also has an obligation to provide education, or special education to people with special needs or with disabilities, from 3 years of age, up until the completion of their educational course. A child with disabilities or special needs must be evaluated by the District Committee of Special Education and Education of each province. The District Committees have a duty to adequately assess the needs of each child considered likely to have disabilities or special needs, and after assessment, shall decide whether or not to grant the child special education and training. If it is decided to provide such education, they will determine the details of such specific training.
Further information and contact details for pre-primary, primary, secondary and special education schools, can be found at the Ministry of Education and Culture website. Please note that at this time of writing, the website is only available in Greek, however a tip for you, if you go to google.com and search for 'cyprus ministry of education, it should come up first result, then beside the listing, you should see a translate button, click on it and it should take you to the website now translated into English. Alternatively you can download the English Guide to Education in Cyprus provided by the Ministry of Education and Culture in pdf format (may be incompatible with mobile devices). Please note this is a large file of 29 mb in size.