Cyprus Editorial: Education - biggest tool (and worst enemy)

28 July, 2014 | Posted By: Financial Mirror

The lack of proper education and the curriculum at all schools in Cyprus, both public and private, is once again the focus of attention with unwarranted arguments by politicians over the lesson on government.
Opposition and anti-solution voices have decided after 40 years that they are no longer comfortable with the federal system of a reunified Cyprus, but fail to offer any alternative, suggesting simply that we should revisit the whole issue and avoid the satanic Annan plan, even though the UN-proposed blueprint is dead and buried.
When ruling DISY’s wise man of education, Nicos Tornaritis, proposed that the lesson on government in schools be enhanced to include more material on federal systems, every newspaper hack and politician decided that this was a concealed method to revive the long-gone plan. The reason, they said, it was rejected by an overwhelming 70% of the population a decade ago was that Annan’s 8,000-page document put to referendum was an abominable attempt to impose a federal system on the (Greek) Cypriot people.
Unfortunately, our politicians have a very short memory and refuse to acknowledge that all presidents, starting from Archbishop Makarios, have been calling for a “federal, bizonal, bicommunal” solution, which is often reiterated by the powers that be and we tend to pat ourselves on the back, satisfied that we have international support in our just cause. Even successive National Councils have unanimously adopted this basis of a solution, which makes one wonder if it is not the same politicians who attend these meetings.
But this is exactly why Tornaritis made the suggestion for an addition to the curriculum, so that the present and future generations of youngsters get to choose for themselves what is best for Cyprus and not what our senile politicians (of all ages) keep on imposing on us.
The main reason the Annan plan was rejected was that the people were misinformed and a handful of politicians manipulated public opinion for fear of losing their place in modern history. There were simply very few opportunities to debate the merits of the plan and neither camp offered reasonable arguments for or against the proposed formula for solution.
But going back to the schools, another issue has now surfaced that no politician will dare to discuss so as not to upset the highly-unionised teachers. If, as one teacher admitted, the lesson on government takes up 90 pages in modern-day text books (which are outdated and refer to the Soviet Union as a federal example!) then why do our youngsters remain clueless about the prospects of a Cyprus solution? Is it the students who are not learning or the teachers who are not teaching? Surely, with an issue of such great importance, our youngsters ought to be aware of different forms of government, the variants of federal systems and what has been agreed in the case of Cyprus? Why, then, when asked, many are blank over what happened on July 15 and 20 in 1974? Or even what led to these events, starting from our patchwork Republic in 1960 imposed by Britain, Greece and Turkey?
It is ridiculous, to say the least, that students go to school for 12-13 years and later on attend university to learn about “safe careers” in accounting, law, maths or medicine, with no idea whatsoever about history, government and human rights, only to find a job and then end up paying a trainer to conduct a workshop on ethics in the workplace. Do our children not have an opinion of their own?
Obviously not, and that is what should concern us more than anything.