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L’enseignement religieux à Chypre

The Orthodox Church in Cyprus has a history of about two thousand years (since 46 A.D). Its presence has been apparent in all aspects of local life and its history is inextricably linked with that of the island. The vast majority of the people of Cyprus are believers of the Orthodox faith.

Religious education is part of the state educational system of the Republic of Cyprus. As stated in the Curriculum (rev. edition 1996), this subject serves several goals. These goals include "the understanding of the revelation of God as a response to fundamental questions of human existence" ; the "acquaintance with the person, the teaching and the deeds of Jesus Christ" ; and the "comprehension of the ethos and the customs of the country that relate to the Orthodox faith." Additional goals include the "learning of essential components of several denominations and religions" ; and, the development of a sense of respect for the religious beliefs of other peoples.

The subject is taught at all grades and levels of education (primary and secondary, i.e., Gymnasium and Lyceum) for two teaching hours, with the exception of the Second Grade of Lyceum in which the course is taught for one and half hour. The teaching follows the guidelines of the Curriculum designed by the Ministry of Education and Culture. There are handbooks for each grade. The educational material for the First and Second Grade of Primary School is published by the Ministry of Education and Culture, whereas the educational material for all other grades are those employed by the State Education of Greece. The Ministry of Education and Culture has also published other secondary handbooks that are conducive to teaching the subject of religion.

In primary schools, religious education is taught by school teachers graduated from university, and in secondary education (Gymnasium and Lyceum) by theologians graduated from university. The subject is compulsory. Pupils may be exempt only after their parents place an appropriate demand and have it approved by the relevant authorities.

Recently, we have witnessed an increase in the number of people belonging to other religious beliefs than Greek Orthodoxy in Cyprus. Therefore, the subject of religious education is being modified accordingly. The chapters concerning other religions have already been increased or expanded in the new educational material and in the handbooks for primary education. The handbook of the Second grade of Lyceum deals exclusively with the main religions. Of course, the spirit of acquaintance, respect and coexistence with the Other - whoever that other may be – is more widely cultivated in the subject.

12 septembre 2012