They would modernise the state, they would make major changes, they would breathe new life into all facets of public life, while those who would be placed in ministries would be non-partisan, introducing a different note to the standoffish, purely partisan choices. And the results are slowly becoming visible.
The new provisions in the proposed Regulations for the Operation of Public Primary Schools, which seem to force all pupils and teachers into a compulsory declaration of religion, compulsory morning prayer and compulsory attendance of church services, indeed shows the steps that the government and the Ministry of Education want to take. Steps that are progressive, steps towards inclusion and acceptance. Or maybe not?
The formal religious approach to things is understandable – [albeit] not acceptable – since Nikos Christodoulides’ election campaign was based on the ideas of the nation – religion – rejuvenation, also taking into account those who supported him. Based on the proclamations made in the run-up to the elections, there were many who expected changes in Education (and have since been vindicated)… [changes that take us] backwards, even in seemingly small ways.
Compulsory prayer in primary schools is something extremely problematic, offensive, non-inclusive, undemocratic, something that targets from the outset innocent children, children who happen to come from elsewhere and who belong to different faiths. Moreover, it is also unfair to children who simply don’t want to pray every morning. One might say, “but they don’t force the children to stand up for the prayer, whether the children are Muslim or something else.” That is hypocritical, because the moment the majority gets up to pray, the minority who remain sitting down are instantly singled out. And we know all too well that kids can get tough on each other… for the simple reason of them being kids; in addition to the fact that public schools have grown severely regressive over the past decade.
The Ministry of Education, without thinking and without caring about the consequences, separates innocent souls into those who are the majority and those who are the minority, and what is more, based on ‘qualitative characteristics’. Instead of protecting the children and their families (they should have also thought about the rise in racist incidents), it is covertly and masterfully caressing the ears of conservatives in order to… preserve what they have painstakingly built in the name of ‘purity’ and religion.
The dangerous paths along which the Ministry and by extension the government are moving are purely political and in no way bring about changes in the character of public schools. Of course, one could argue that regression also constitutes a change.
The responsibilities of the Ministry are grave, as it asserts the ‘supremacy’ of the prevailing religion through the back door, while at the same time exposing children to many dangers.