Special Needs Education in Cyprus

The policy of the government in Cyprus is to support and encourage the integration of children with special needs into the normal educational system giving them the chance to develop and learn with children without special needs. For those children whose special needs are more acute, additional educational help is provided through support teachers to help with their integration into the normal educational system.

For those pre-school children that are autistic or are hearing impaired they are in part integrated into the normal education system by being placed into special units that are joined with nursery and primary schools with the addition of attending a normal class for some of the time.

Children who have severe physical, mental or emotional problems an exception to the integration policy is made. Every attempt is made to develop the links between the normal and special schools to encourage the social integration between the two.

The responsibility of the education of children with special needs is undertaken by the government of Cyprus for those children between the ages of 5 and 18 and who fall into the following categories:-

a) Mildly or moderately mentally disabled
b) Slow learners
c) Emotional disabled
d) Deaf, blind and physically disabled

The Council of Ministries is authorised to organise the schools and programmes in the above categories by law.

The same legislation also requires a multi-professional committee to discuss the cases of each individual child with special needs that is referred to it and to suggest possible educational placement and provision to the Director of Primary Education. Each committee will have varied collection of members with different professional backgrounds including a psychiatrist, an educational psychologist, a clinical physiologist, and a social worker.

The government of Cyprus gives special attention in providing equal education opportunities to every child. There are a number of special schools across the island to ensure that the opportunities are there.

Schools for the moderately mentally disabled
These schools provide training and education in self-care, speech and occupational therapy as well as subjects that are designed to develop the mental abilities along with their other abilities to the child’s potential.

Schools for the deaf and blind
A variety of activities and programmes are organised at these schools to improve vocational rehabilitation and social adjustment.

Schools for children with behaviour problems
These schools offer programmes and activities to aid children in expressing their emotions easily and help control their behaviour.

There are 1100 children currently in Cyprus attending specific programmes in normal schools that are offered by 100 special educators.