The General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL Andros Kyprianou 2 November sent a letter to the Minister of Education and Culture Costas Hambiaouris regarding the upsurge of nationalism – chauvinism in our education system.
The letter is as follows:
“It is with great concern and reflection that we note the rise of nationalism – chauvinism in our education system. A series of events have recently caused turmoil in Cypriot society. At the same time, they raise many questions about the orientation and content of Education being given to our children. Although your Ministry has already expressed its position by characterizing these incidents as “isolated”, we believe that a serious analysis of the situation both within Cypriot society, as well as across Europe must sound the alarm so that appropriate measures are at long last taken. Our concern is growing because not only because young children are playing a leading part in these incidents, but also teachers who are supposed to teach respect, tolerance and human rights.
With this letter I want to remind you or bring to your attention the following incidents:
– During the parade in honor of the 28th October anniversary, the Gymnasium of Constantinopoleos (that is children aged 12 to 15), under the guidance of a teacher were chanting slogans about Constantinople and “Ayia Sophia”. This incident has already been confirmed, upon our complaint, by the Department of Secondary Education of your Ministry.
– School students of the Ayi Yianni Lyceum in Limassol “paraded” inside the School shouting extreme-right slogans.
– A teacher on Sunday 28th October in a Church of the Athienou Municipality read a speech, which manifestly contained rhetoric of hate, bigotry, racism and extreme nationalism.
We consider that these three incidents of chauvinist outbursts during the celebrations of an anniversary which teaches resistance to fascism, expansionism, and to all that these inhuman ideals represent, must concern us.
I also remind you that a decision was taken by your Government to establish a bicommunal committee on education which has as a goal the promotion of mutual understanding, cooperation and the combatting of nationalism – chauvinism. I also remind you of the Purpose and Objectives of our Education as outlined in our Curriculum Programs. It is evident that at least on these specific issues our Education system is not fulfilling its goals effectively.
In conclusion, I hereby make these incidents known in the hope that not only temporary and short-term measures will be taken, but that they should represent the cause for a wider reflection about how such fanatical and intolerant behavior will be rooted out from children’s minds, on how we manage to cultivate among our children the universal principles and values that suit them and about how these universal principles and values can accompany them in a future of peace, security and human rights.
Besides, in honoring historical anniversaries we must also draw lessons from them.”