NICOSIA – Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he wants to get to the bottom of how exams for candidates for state teaching jobs were posted online, leading for the tests to be cancelled.
He wants an investigation to determine if it was an accident or deliberate so that, for whatever reason, the exams wouldn’t be given. Material for five subjects was released, providing the answers.
Anastasiades pledged his full support to Education Minister Costas Kadis following calls for his resignation after the ministry ordered a probe into the incident, the Cyprus Mail reported.
“The investigation will show if it was a mistake or made on purpose. We will either accept that there are (ministry) officials who are negligent or have the brain of a kindergarten child, or that it was a deliberate action that serves those who disagree with the new appointment system in education,” Anastasiades said.
The embarrassment also led to a discovery that two University of Cyprus lecturers who sat on the committee of experts putting the exams together had also worked at a private higher education institute offering preparatory courses to exam candidates.
University rector Constantinos Christofides said the investigation into their role was not related to the exam debacle but because they had not asked permission to also work for the private institute.
Speaking to Sigmalive, Christofides said that had the two lecturers sought permission, they would have received it as the services they had provided were for a short period of time.
The major opposition AKEL party, which opposed a new appointment system in education, said it wants the Auditor-General to investigate reports concerning conflict of interest over the exams after it was also said that another eight senior education ministry officials had been teaching those preparatory courses at the private institute and that the head of the committee is the spouse of the head of the private institute that offered the preparatory courses.
“This is a very serious issue, as high-ranking education ministry officials chose the examiners, discussed with these people, oversaw the procedures,” Christos Christofides, the head of AKEL’s education office said.
Some 200 contract teachers protested outside the education ministry in an effort organized by the AKEL-linked Proodeftiki, demanding the cancellation of the exams.
The group opposes the new system of appointing teachers which would phase out jobs being offered to candidates based on their position on a waiting list, and replacing it with one where teachers are appointed based on their degree and teaching exam results.