Empowering Schools Initiating Health Promotion Activities

Coordinating Committee on Health Education and Citizenship

The aim of the Health Education Programmes (of the Ministry of Education and Culture) is the protection, improvement and the promotion of the physical, mental and social well-being of the students, both with the empowering of their personality and the enhancement of their social and physical environment. Health education, is the appropriate preventive approach in the field of education, in dealing with problems that concern, among others, the interpersonal relationships, anti-social behaviour, juvenile delinquency, smoking, alcohol, drugs, sexually transmitted diseases, obesity, road safety and racism.

Health education is a separate subject in the timetable (Schedule) of schools of Primary and Secondary Education. In the subject of Health Education, the students not only have the opportunity to be informed about the physical consequences of certain behaviours, but they also and more importantly, have the opportunity to reflect on the factors that affect their behaviour, to practice their skills of communication, cooperation, conflict management, dealing with peer pressure, social stereotypes, issues pertaining to their safety, consumer education, rights and obligations, use and abuse of addictive substances, sexual education, etc.

The Ministry of Education and Culture supports school units in the development and implementation of the action plan, regarding health education and prevention of juvenile delinquency. The action plan has to be accepted by the students and the staff of the school, to respond to the needs and particularities of each school, while, at the same time, to utilize opportunities for cooperation with the parents, the community and other authorities. In the framework of implementing this strategy, the Ministry of Education and Culture, all school units have been asked, with a Circular, to develop and implement an action plan, regarding health education and the prevention of juvenile delinquency.

The Health Education programs, among others, include:

  • Training of Educational Personnel. The relevant training is announced, by Circulars, on the website of the Ministry of Education and Culture.
  • Support and implementation of Health Education Curriculums, through planned visits to the school units.
  • Funding of Actions of school units. During the last school years, a large number of programs, actions and interventions of Health Education have been implemented, after funding obtained by the Coordinating Committee of Health Education and Citizenship. The actions that are funded, aim at enhancing of the factors that serve the purposes of Health Education: Development and empowering the self, leading a safe and healthy life, development and improvement of social self, growing into an active citizen, development of personal and social skills, effective management of emotions and development of communication skills, promotion of self-esteem, improvement of the psychosocial climate of the school, support of family sufficiency.

The request for funding is submitted electronically to the Coordinating Committee of Health Education and Citizenship, based on specific indicators and concerns all grades / levels of education.

The actions, that are funded, concern, among others: improvement of the school environment and shaping of a school culture (actions for a creative and participatory shaping and utilization of the spaces in the school), creative afternoons for students (e.g. music, theatre, arts and crafts workshops, summer activities in under-privileged areas, actions and programs for the strengthening of the character / personality, dealing with situations of delinquent behaviour, development and evolution of the self, development and improvement of the social self, promotion of behaviours of a holistic development and actions for the promotion of practices that support safety and health, with the parallel development of critical thought (e.g. active consumer, debates among teenagers) and the implementation of practical experiences of qualitative use of free time (e.g. excursions for meeting people and contact with nature and social and cultural events, visits, creative breaks, anti-smoking programs and critical confrontation with the use and abuse of substances, etc). It must be noted that, this practice was presented in an issue of the World Health Organization, 2003) “Improving the lives of children and young people: case studies from Europe”, Volume 3, School (pp.9-17).

At the same time, there is promotion of funding for actions, outside the school time, geared towards the support of students belonging to vulnerable groups of the population. This action, aims at contributing to the substantial support (educational, emotional, strengthening the self and the social self, presentation and cultivation of talent, leading a safe life, etc) for students, who belong to vulnerable groups of the population. The action was developed within the framework of the implementation of the National Strategy for the Dealing of Addiction from Illegal Substances and the Harmful Use of Alcohol.

  • Support to the schools for the holistic dealing with serious incidents of delinquency. The relevant request is submitted to the Immediate Response Group. The forms and the relevant information are provided in the circular no. 2923 for the Primary Education, no. 5487 for the General Secondary Education and no. 1298 for the Secondary Technical Professional Education. At the same time, the Observatory of Violence in Schools was established to collect, record, codify and analyze all data that concern the prevalence and forms of violence in schools.
  • Implementation of Health Education Programs
    1. European Network of Schools, regarding Health Education. The European Network of Schools regarding Health Education (ENSHE), aims at developing a health lifestyle for all the members of the school unit. The program runs at the Middle Education schools with the cooperation of the Ministry of Health.
    2. Welfare. This program is a product of a transnational agreement between Greece and Cyprus. Within the framework of this program, each participating Cypriot school, cooperates for two years with a Greek one and research a subject relevant to health (smoking, alcohol, drugs, nutrition, etc).
    3. Actions of School and Social Inclusion – (Zones of Educational Priority - ZEP). This is a program of selective or targeted prevention, which aims at the strengthening of networks of schools. In the ZEP areas, many innovative actions of preventive nature are developed, such as a room for creative work and entertainment, operation of school clubs (dance, theatre, journalism, music, painting, radio-amateurs, football) as well as a program of educational, cultural and health activities.
    4. Traffic Education. The program “Traffic Education” promotes the awareness-raising of teachers and students in issue pertaining to road safety. The actions of the program include the training of teachers and the practice of the students, using school aids, visual aids and practical implementation of the traffic code. The aim, is to develop attitudes and skills and the development of road safety awareness and the desired behaviour.
    5. Mentoring. The Units of Education on Life “Mentoring” are mobile teaching rooms where educational programs are offered from Grade A, until Grade F of Elementary School, with the aim to prevent the use of addictive substances.
    6. Anti-Drugs Seminars. These, are yearly seminars for selected students of Grade B of Gymnasium, with the aim to act as resistance cores within schools against addictive substances.
    7. School without smoke. In connection with circular no. 2110 for the Elementary Education and no. 4316 for the Secondary General and Seconddary Technical Professional Education, the schools of every grade are called to implement the anti-smoking actions for students, teachers and / or the parents and their guardians. In the circular, there are guidelines for the development of an anti-smoking policy at school and indicative activities, that can be applied at the level of the school and the classroom. There is also information, about the negative effects of smoking on health and statistical data for young smokers in Cyprus. Finally, data are provided concerning private and public agencies, that can support anti-smoking actions in schools.
  • Access in printed and electronic material. There is a lending library in the Ministry of Education and Culture, with books on health education for teachers (room 137C).
  • Dissemination of Good Practices in Health Education. Meetings and conferences are organized among schools with the aim at exchanging material. Competitions are also organized for preventive actions which the school units develop, regarding smoking, safety and delinquency.
  • Implementation of the Code of Conduct against Racism and a Management and Recoding Guide of Racist Incidents. The Ministry of Education and Culture, adopting the suggestion of the Anti-Discrimination Body of the Commissioner of Administration and Human Rights (Ombudsman), has developed an anti-racism policy “Code of Conduct against Racism & a Management Recording Guide of Racist Incidents” in June 2014. The development and implementation of the anti-racist policy, is in line with Directive no. 10, of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) and is also, in line various international and European conventions, which Cyprus has ratified, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Directive of the Council of Europe CM/Rec(2010)5 by the Ministerial Committee towards member-states, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women and the European Social Charter.
  • Participation in the Pilot action of the Council of Europe: In May 2014, the Ministry of Education and Culture submitted a proposal, under the coordination of the UK and had obtained funding from the Council of Europe, for participation in the Pilot Project of the Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education. Since June 2014, Cyprus has participated as a partner country in the project “Teaching Controversial Issues – developing effective training for teachers and school leaders”. The aim of the project was to evaluate the way with which controversial issues were being taught to support the training for the democratic citizenship and human rights. Officers of the Ministry of Education and Culture participated in European Conventions, where they presented the findings and their experience from the participation of Cyprus in the project. Moreover, Cyprus has secured its participation in the pilot action of the year 2015, with the proposal “Managing Controversy: A Whole-School Training Tool”, which was submitted again, under the coordination of the United Kingdom and with Cyprus, Austria, Montenegro and Ireland, as partners. The Pedagogical Institute, with the cooperation of the Ministry of Education and Culture, has obtained funding for this purpose. The aim of the project for 2015, is the development of an educational tool for the management of controversial issues in school, across Europe. The tool, which is available online, aims to offer practical support to school principles for the active promotion and management of controversial issues, within and beyond the school environment. It is expected that, the tool will be also useful to teachers, educational inspectors, trainers and officials of educational agencies.          


* original Greek text on the website.


The project is now finished.
Last review : October 2017


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