UK Greek Cypriots struggle to retain Greek A level exams
A high level delegation from the Cypriot community has met with the UK government’s Education Minister Nick Gibb, in order to set out the arguments for retaining the Modern Greek language A level exams.
The Greek Cypriots in the UK were immediately mobilised to lobby for the retention of the Greek exams, as soon as the British examination boards announced that foreign languages A levels and GCSEs were under threat.
The meeting with the Minister was arranged by Theresa Villiers, a north London Conservative MP and long standing friend of Cyprus, at the request of Michael Ellinas, Head teacher of Manor Hill Greek School. Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate, David Burrowes also attended to show his support for the retention of Greek A levels.
The Cypriot delegation consisted of representatives of a cross section of groups who support Greek language education. As well as Michael Ellinas, those attending included Panayiotis Ttofis (Co-ordinator of the Central Educational Committee of the Archdiocese of Thyateira and G.B.), Andreas Chimonas (President of the Federation of the Greek Educational Associations in England), and Panayiotis Yiacoumi (President of the Greek Parents Association).
Following the meeting, Theresa Villiers said "This was an encouraging meeting. We put the case clearly for keeping Greek A levels, setting out the importance of Greek language education for the Cypriot community and the valuable opportunities it provides for young people.”
“Many Greek schools would find it hard to attract students if there was no option to take an A level in Greek. Losing these schools would be damaging for community cohesion and would make it harder for children and young people to learn about their cultural heritage," she added.
The Minister, she explained, was very clear that he wanted to find a way to save the A level in Greek and other languages. He outlined some of the work which he and his officials at the Department of Education have been undertaking on this.
“He assured us that the Government takes this issue very seriously and is aware of the strength of support for retention of Greek A levels. He told us that various ideas were being considered which he hoped could lead to a resolution of the problem and see the examination authorities such as Edexcel retain A levels in Greek and other languages under threat," Villiers said.
David Burrowes said he was pleased that the Government is keeping its pre-election promise to secure the future of Greek GCSEs and A levels. “The consultation is now up and running and the Minister made clear that the only question for Edexcel and OFQUAL is how the new Greek exams in 2018 will operate and not whether there will be Greek exams,” he added.