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EY Cyprus: Local Education Sector Ranks Third in Europe

EY Cyprus: Local Education Sector Ranks Third in Europe

EY Cyprus has released the first issue of its Education Sector Dynamics newsletter, a thorough analysis of current developments and an outlook on forthcoming events in the Cyprus educational system. This issue covers key indicators of the overall educational system, legislation developments and Cyprus’s 2020 targets.

The educational system in Cyprus, the report indicates, is centralised and fully regulated by the Ministry of Education and Culture (MoEC). Full-time education is compulsory for children aged between 5 and 15 years old, while state schools, including tertiary educational institutions, are government financed. In addition to the state school system, there are many accredited independent private schools (both primary and secondary) as well as several private universities.

In 2014, Cyprus comfortably exceeded two of the headline targets for education set under the Europe 2020 strategy: the share of early leavers from education and training as well as the tertiary education attainment rate. In contrast, following the sharp increase in youth unemployment during the recent sovereign debt crisis, the percentage of Cypriots with higher education qualifications in employment is 77.3%, lower than the EU-28 average by 4.8%.

According to Education Sector Dynamics, Cyprus ranks 3 in the European Union with regard to public expenditure on education as a share of GDP, at 7.9% based on the latest available data of 2011. Additionally, Cyprus has the highest maximum statutory salary for teachers amongst the EU-28 member states, equivalent to 306% of GDP per capita. However, the relatively high expenditure on education and the high attainment rates are not reflected in the education learning performance of Cypriot citizens, especially in the fields of Science and Mathematics, where Cyprus ranks at a disproportionately low position in the EU.

As part of the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding on Specific Economic Policy Conditionality (MoU), agreed with the Troika of international lenders, the Cypriot authorities have commissioned an independent external review of possible reforms of public administration. This includes a review of the appropriate system of remuneration and conditions of employment in the public sector (e.g. annual vacation leave, sick leave, maternity leave, working time), in relation to the private sector and to other EU countries and based on best practices. Since 2011, the government has imposed successive reductions in teacher salaries and benefits and is currently working on the introduction of a legislation that will incorporate significant reforms in the educational system aiming at both reducing government spending, while at the same time enhancing students’ performance.

Finally, the report outlines that the Europe 2020 targets aim at reducing the number of early leavers from education to less than 10% of the total population participating in education and training. As a result of the significant reduction in early school leavers recorded in 2014, Cyprus performed better than the EU-28 average in this area (6.8% versus 11.1% respectively), and achieved its national target of 10% considerably earlier than the target timeline of 2020.


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