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Are there positive initiatives to improve/support poor educational provision for migrant and minority groups?

Key Area:
Discrimination, Equality
13/01/2012 - 13:17
Short Answer


Qualitative Info


ZONES OF EDUCATIONAL PRIORITY: In 2003, the Ministry of Education introduced for the first time the institution of the ‘Zones of Educational Priority’ known as ‘ZEP’ in an effort to assist specific schools facing problems to improve educational performance. ZEP was formed under the proposition of MOEPASE (Standing Working Committee for the enhancement of Alphabetisement and School Success) – «Plan of Educational Reform for the Success of All Children» and in cooperation with the Psychology Educational Service of the Ministry. ZEP is founded on the principle of identifying the causes of the various problems that individual  schools are facing and establishing actions towards long term improvement aiming at adaptating school objectives to the needs of the children in the region and reduce school failure and illiteracy. Initially, the ZEP policy was introduced during school year 2003-04 in two areas of Cyprus, Faneromeni in Nicosia and Agios Antonios in Limassol. On September 2004 was introduced in the Theoskepasti area of Pafos and on September 2008 at the Faneromeni area in Larnaka. For the academic year 2010-11 the project received EU funding through the European Social Funds; as a result a fifth ZEP was introduced in the East side of Limassol. Each ZEP costs more than 400,000 Euros for supporting personnel action, reduction of number of students in the classroom and equipment. All ZEP areas are formed from schools with a multicultural student population that varies from a percentage of 25 percent in Larnaca and reaching the 65 percent in Nicosia. Students in ZEP schools around Cyprus come from a total number of 30 Countries. []

The data compiled by the Ministry of Education for the purposes of the National Report on Strategies for Social Protection and Social Inclusion 2006-2008 ( illustrates that the pilot operation of the Educational Priority Zones had positive results for local communities, including the Roma community residing there:

  1.  In the school units covered by EPZs there has been a reduction of pupil drop-outs, of school failure (referrals and failures) and of referrals to the Educational Psychology Service, as well as improvement of school success.
  2. Support of the foreign language speaking pupils has led to increasing their entry into the educational system of Cyprus, to reducing the number of drop-outs and to improving their performance.
  3. Increase of school presence and of the proportion of enrolment and attendance of Roma pupils.

ROMA EDUCATIONAL POLICIES: In spite of the above measures, an Equality Body report based on a complaint regarding the adequacy of measures for the support and integration of Roma children in the educational system, concluded that educational policy as regards the Roma in Cyprus did not sufficiently take into account the fact that, in addition to Turkish Cypriots, the Roma also have their own special identify, urging the Ministry of Education to intensify its efforts in adopting policies that will address the special characteristics of the Roma, to promote their separate culture and reduce drop out and leaving rates. The report criticized the authorities for not actively involving the members of the Roma community in a dialogue on the design and implementation of teaching methods and programs, pointing out that teaching methods must be adapted to the special characteristics of the Roma such as their difficulty to be confined in a closed space for a long time and the increased absences due to the frequent movement of their parents from one area to the other. Report dated 27.09.2011, available in Greek at

 CIRCULAR ON ENROLLING MIGRANT CHILDREN: Another serious setback in educational policies is a circular issued from the Ministry of Education to all schools instructing them to request all foreign parents applying to enrol their children to schools to reveal their contact details in order for the immigration authoirities to investigate whether they are lawfully residing in Cyprus, a practice that has attracked criticism from ECRI and left wing politicians. On more than one occasion, the Equality Body criticized this policy; in response, the Ministry argued that it had never prohibited the enrolment of the children as such, but merely requested the parents to provide their contact details. In its latest report on this matter, dated 06.09.2011, the Equality Body required of  the authorities to cancel the said policy and take measures to create opportunities and the possibility for all children to enjoy their rights, adding that the measure of instructing the schools to enroll all children irrespective of residence status is rendered ineffective as a result of the application of the circular which reasonably discourages undocumented migrants from enrolling their children, leading to phenomena of the children’s social exclusion and their potential exploitation (


Groups affected/interested Migrants, Roma & Travelers, Ethnic minorities
Type (R/D) Anti-migrant/xenophobia, Anti-roma/ romaphobia
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Education, Culture
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