Bicommunal Technical Committees on Education and on Crime and Criminal Issues are currently promoting the implementation of a project on issues related to cyber bullying, Greek Cypriot co-chair of the Technical Committee on Education, Michalinos Zembylas, has told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).
According to Zembylas, the project concerns the prevention and combat of bullying and specifically cyberbullying. For the first time an effort will be made to look into the situation at both communities of Cyprus as regards this particular type of bullying and we hope that the results of this research will lead to activities for training teachers so that they will be in a position to address bullying more effectively, he added.
Asked about the course of the work of the Technical Committee on Education, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Zembylas said that the pandemic influenced, as expected, the activities of the children and their teachers in the framework of the bicommunal educational “Imagine” project as well as seminars for teachers that were organized during this period.
On the other hand, he noted, the Committee continues its work without any fuss in many fields in many other sectors, as for example in preparing lesson plans on issues related to intercultural education, human rights education and education in the framework of a project funded by the EU.
Moreover, he added, “we recently submitted a proposal about a new project in cooperation with the Technical Committee on Crime and Criminal Issues, with a view to look into issues related to bullying and more particularly cyberbullying, aiming at the prevention of this phenomenon and the education of teachers to address it more effectively. Therefore, our work is going on, despite the various practical obstacles and we are taking advantage of the time provided to better prepare our future plans,” he said.
Zembylas noted that there is frequent online contact with the Turkish Cypriot co-chair of the Technical Committee on Education, Meltem Onurkan Samani. “We have already exchanged views about how the pandemic can offer us opportunities to introduce new ideas that will make use of long-distance communication between teachers and students from both communities. This is something we are looking into right now and when we are ready, we will announce some new initiatives as for example long-distance seminars for teachers. The members of the bicommunal Committee continue to work on various projects that have not been completed yet, or draft new projects which take into consideration possible restrictions that can continue to exist due to the pandemic,” he added.
He said that a programme for developing educational material with various thematics (from primary school until the lyceum) concerning issues of racism, discrimination, gender, human rights, public health, fake news etc also continues to be implemented. These are modern lesson plans with multi-dimensional educational activities which enhance the current material at schools and deal with all these issues, Zembylas added.
He noted that it would be an omission not to include the Covid-19 pandemic and public health in the material. “I am certain that the teachers and the students of both communities will find the material being drafted as excellent. As soon as the lesson plans and the supporting material will be concluded they will be uploaded to an electronic platform to which everyone interested will have access,” he said.
Zembylas went on to say that another project in the pipeline concerns contacts between parents from both communities so that they could come together and attend common lectures concerning issues which interest them, joint walks and educational excursions to get to know Cyprus better.
We consider that by engaging parents in this we will enrich even more the opportunities of mutual understanding and communication between the two communities about concerns and issues which they all face, so that parents are helped to play their role better, particularly under difficult conditions as those of the coronavirus pandemic.
Zembylas expressed the belief that the Committee has achieved enough during the four years that it has been working. “We started from scratch, establishing a mechanism of contact between the children and teachers of the two communities, the Imagine project, which was warmly embraced from many people because its added value to the children’s education has been ascertained, particularly as regards issues of combating racism, discrimination and extremism and consolidating human rights and peace,” he noted.
He recalled that seminars concerning one of the communities as well as bicommunal seminars were also organized in the framework of the Imagine project, while the first bicommunal conference for school principles was organized a few months ago, adding they are constantly enriching contact opportunities with new ideas. There are a lot of things that must still be done. The Committee will continue step by step to work towards this direction, he concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.