MPs mull tweaking school hours

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The House Education Committee has invited teacher unions to give their view on changing school opening hours and plans for all-day schools.

Lawmakers met earlier this week to review timetables and curriculums in primary, secondary and technical education, following a proposal by the chair of the committee, DIKO MP Pavlos Mylonas.

The MP has taken the initiative to pull stakeholders together to review a possible tweak of school hours to clamp down on traffic in the mornings and at lunchtime when schools finish.

Mylonas has proposed that lessons in primary schools start at 8.00 am, and high schools and technical schools at 08.30 am, instead of 7.45 and 7.30 am, with the day finishing later at 2 pm and 2.15 pm respectively.

The MP also suggests that teaching time be extended to 50-minute lessons from the 45 minutes currently in secondary education and technical education. A proposal was also made to extend break times.

Changing school hours will have some socio-economic implications, with Mylonas also pitching the idea of giving civil servants the flexibility of going to work between 7 and 9 am where possible.

At a hearing at the House earlier this week, the head of the primary school teaching union POED, Myria Vasiliou, pointed out that socio-economic implications must be considered.

“POED declares its readiness to submit substantiated suggestions on issues related to schedules and curriculums and is also ready to discuss comprehensive solutions to improve the operating hours of our schools.”

Mylonas argued that making children go to school at 7.30 am was ‘barbaric’, as they needed to wake up much earlier.

The MP referred to ‘sleepy children in classrooms having difficulties concentrating.

He said the aim is to open a general discussion, which will lead to partial changes, with the ultimate goal being all-day schools.

“It is an opportunity to be ready so that when the new government takes over, we can proceed with the reform to implement the all-day school,” he said.

Opposition AKEL MP Christos Christofias accused the government of exacerbating the problem of para-education with its decisions.

“The main problem of the education system is the curriculum, which has been formed by this government and has proven faulty.

“Para-education, a timeless problem, has been exacerbated because students, mainly in secondary and technical education, focus on grades and sterile knowledge and not the essence of their education,” said Christofias.

He called for the government to conduct scientific research and engage in a structured dialogue with stakeholders on school hours and curriculum.