School and Education in Cyprus


Since the British colonial era, there has been a model for the teaching system that applies to both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, but both groups have completely separate schools. Basic education is free of charge and compulsory for ages 6-15. The school consists of six-year primary school and six-year secondary school where the first three years are compulsory.

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The proportion of highly educated people has since been higher in Greek than in Turkish Cypriots. There is a larger state university in Nicosia and a number of private and state universities and colleges on the island.

Due to developments in the tourism sector, with international assistance and through the fact that Cyprus, due to the civil war in Lebanon, took over Beirut’s role as an international financial center, the island from 1983 experienced a period of economic growth. First of all, it benefited the Greek-Cypriot citizenship.

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In the northern part of the island a strong influx of Turkish immigrants was recorded; the number of newcomers is estimated at 40,000. Adding to this the presence of 35,000 Turkish soldiers and the emigration of about 20,000 Turkish Cypriots, it can be seen that the island’s “population profile” has changed radically; In the early 1990s, the ratio of «continental» Turks to Turkish Cypriots was 1 to 1.

In May 1985, a referendum was held to introduce a constitution for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. 65% of voters voted in favor of the new constitution, while 30% abstained. It was interpreted as a lack of confidence in the legitimacy of the new state.

Cyprus Country Flag

Cyprus flag source:

In February 1987, the Greek Prime Minister canceled his visit to the United States, because of his approaches to Turkey and in protest against the installation of North American weapons in the Turkish-controlled area of ​​Cyprus.

Cyprus’s economy grew by 6.9% in 1988 and by 6% in 1989. In April 1990, Denktash was re-elected president of Northern Cyprus. With the support of US President George Bush, in 1991 Turkey proposed a meeting of representatives from Ankara, Athens and from both Cypriot communities. The Greeks and Greek-Cypriot leaders considered Washington’s support of the proposal to be a compensation to Turkey for its involvement in the Gulf War.

Nicosia demanded assistance from the UN and the EU, while rejecting the presence of Turkish Cypriots. In April 1992, the United Nations declared Cyprus to be a binary and religious community, with political equality between the two groups. At the presidential elections in early 1993, Glafkos Klerides won over President Giorgis Vassiliu.

In Northern Cyprus, Denktash formed a new coalition government in December 1993, while in 1994 the Cypriot judiciary recognized the presence of British military bases on the island. At the same time, the European Court ordered the imposition of a trade embargo on the export of Turkish Cypriot goods; Despite the Turkish aid, the embargo seriously hurt the economy.

In 1995, the question asked whether Cyprus’s entry into the EU could help solve the problem of sharing the island, which received more than 2 million tourists annually, and whose economy was growing. Massive Eastern European investment gave rise to charges of money laundering.

In May 1996, the Labor Party gained one-third of the vote, removing President Kleride’s parliamentary base. A series of demonstrations in August at the internal borders led to the loss of several lives. The human rights organization Amnesty International accused the Turkish Cypriot government of being directly or indirectly responsible for at least two of the deaths.

In trying to get Cyprus admitted into the EU, Klerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash met repeatedly in 1997. These meetings, with UN participation, aimed to reunite the island in the short term as a prelude to the accession in the EU. But direct talks between the EU and the Greek Cypriot leaders slowed down internal dialogue in Cyprus and the reunion dragged on. The disagreement between Greece and Turkey on this point also made the negotiations more difficult.