Religious Education in Kypros: Cyprus
The subject of Religious Education is spreading its wings aiming not only to include all students, but also to travel with them in a journey through the multidimensional spectrum of the religious phenomenon. The purpose of Religious Education is to supply students with the necessary skills that will enable them to approach and explore the phenomenon of Religion and its global role throughout the centuries. Religious literacy also aims at informing students about the Christian Orthodox faith and tradition. Moreover, one of the main targets of Religious Education is to instil humanitarian principles that will serve as antidotes to fanaticism and intolerance. Information and Communication Technology maximises the potential of this journey embellishing it and making it even more exciting.
The reorganisation of the curriculum based on success and competence indicators offers a new field of research that encourages innovative methods of planning and presenting the course of Religious Education. It aims at cultivating critical thinking and developing good citizens that will lead a spiritual life based on the principles of good citizenship.
Religious Education in the public and most private schools in Cyprus is one of the compulsory subjects in all Primary and Secondary school curricula. However, Armenian, Maronite and Roman Catholic students can be exempted from the lesson, a right given to them by the constitution of Cyprus (article 18). Muslims are exempted too.
Gymnasium (lower secondary, for 12-15 years old)
Class A- Old Testament
The teaching of the Old Testament aims at cultivating the students’ ability to approach biblical narratives interpret their allegorical meaning and focus on the universality of their messages. The students also approach the commands of God as indicators of freedom, increase their understanding in the words of the prophets, judges and ordinances to serve as a base for their introduction to the New Testament.
Class B- New Testament
The teaching of the New Testament seeks to prove the organic relationship between the Old and the New Testament, the importance of the Gospel in our life and its emergence into a world religion and cultural good. It is expected that students will be presented with issues such as alienation, selfishness, racism and violence and see how the ecumenical and sacrificial character of the Gospel offers solutions as to how to eliminate these problems.
Class C- Church History
The aim of the course is to unfold the history of church. Particular emphasis is given to the European dimension of Christianity and its presence in the modern world. Through the teaching of Ecclesiastical history, modern social and cultural realities are approached through the spirit of love and ministry that characterised the early Christian community, thus encouraging the adoption of the same values shared by the apostles and the first martyrs of the church.
Lyceum (upper secondary, for 15-18 years old)
Class A – Orthodox Worship
The students are taught subjects of worship such as Divine Liturgy, the holy sacraments and church services. The course aims at presenting an experiential approach to the fundamental aspects of the Orthodox faith as they are depicted in the Divine Liturgy and the Eortologion in order to experience the spiritual character of our faith. Students are expected to get familiar with and consequently appreciate some forms of material and immaterial religious and cultural heritage and tradition. In addition the peace-making force of the Eucharist Ethos cultivates the spiritual character of The Christian Orthodox faith in order to transform and rehabilitate the world. The students are asked to critically approach destructive cults in order to be given the right equipment to secure their personal freedom.
Class B – Religious Studies
The course aims at helping the students enrich their knowledge of the pluralistic character of religions and the Christian Doctrine. Getting familiar with the major religions encourages understanding and interpretation of behaviours promoting tolerance and eliminating religious fanaticism. Interreligious consciousness fosters peaceful coexistence and the spirit of conciliation.
Class C- Ethics
The course studies Biotechnology and various areas of technological explosion as well as ethical dilemmas under the light of Christian Ethics having as a starting point that life is a gift of God. The students are encouraged to evaluate the role of moral awareness and the incentives behind human actions and behaviours. Through the study of violation and devaluation of human life, students are expected to respect the church’s propositions for the respect of every form of life and the uniqueness of the prosopon. The students are asked to surpass the egocentrism of modern society and give answers to existential questions through the perspective of “new human” (καινός άνθρωπος) and the society of people (κοινωνία των προσώπων).
This report was written by Eliana Hadjioannou, the EFTRE representative for Cyprus - August 2019