Cypriot High Schools as Cultural Mosaics: Students’ Perspectives and Experiences

By Anna Nicolaou, Chrisa Nitsiou and Sophia Charalambous.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In recent years, world events have sent numerous groups of people searching for relocation opportunities around the globe. Consequently, communities that regarded themselves as homogeneous have found themselves faced with the challenges posed by cultural diversity and group heterogeneity. In the case of Cyprus, the establishment of new cultural and ethnic communities of people, coupled with the accession of the island to the European Union, have brought about dramatic changes to the demographic character of the island which have affected different aspects of society, including education. However, the state educational system has found itself unprepared to accommodate for the needs of its diverse student body so as to capitalize on the merits of multiculturalism and teach the students to view pluralism as an asset and equip them with the tools necessary to survive and prosper in a culturally diverse environment. Therefore, the need to adapt the educational system so as to teach students to see the diversity amongst them and in the society in which they live as an empowering and enriching element of their education has become imperative. This paper focuses on what data analysis revealed regarding student attitudes and experiences of cultural diversity in their school environments. Data were collected through questionnaires which were distributed to students of public secondary schools island-wide. This study is part of a larger two-year project funded by the Research Promotion Foundation in Cyprus which aimed at examining attitudes towards intercultural education and developing multicultural awareness in public schools.

Keywords: Cultural Diversity, Students’ Attitudes, Teachers’ Attitudes

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp.343-352. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 607.417KB).

Anna Nicolaou

Senior Lecturer, Department of Languages, School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, Intercollege, Limassol, Cyprus

Anna Nicolaou is Senior Lecturer of English at the Department of Languages, School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law at Intercollege, Cyprus. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Athens in Greece in 1995 and her Master’s Degree in English Language Studies and Methods at the University of Warwick, UK in 1996. Her Master’s dissertation focused on the Communicative Approach in language teaching and examined the reasons for resistance to the implementation of methodological changes in public secondary schools in Cyprus. She has recently conducted a project which aimed at assessing secondary school teachers’ distribution of feedback to students’ oral performance. The results of this project were presented in conferences in Cyprus, Greece and Spain. Currently, her research interests involve the identification of the attitudes of educators of the Cypriot public school system towards culturally distinct students, as well as the development of their cultural awareness, within the framework of a funded research project, supported by the Research Promotion Foundation in Cyprus.

Dr. Chrisa Nitsiou

Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, University of Nicosia, Limassol, Cyprus

Chrisa Nitsiou is Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology at the Department of Social Sciences, School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, in Greece in 1995. She continued with her graduate studies at the University of Minnesota, in the U.S.A. where she received her Master’s and Doctorate Degrees in Educational Psychology, with a Minor in Early Childhood Special Education in 1997 and 2000 respectively. During her doctorate studies, she participated and conducted various research projects regarding the development of assessment procedures for measuring children’s growth in all areas of development. Her dissertation research study evaluated the effectiveness of the use of a language assessment task, to measure the language development of monolingual and bilingual kindergartners. Currently, her research interests involve the identification of the attitudes of educators and students of the Cypriot public school system towards culturally and linguistically distinct students, as well as the development of their cultural awareness.

Sophia Charalambous

Senior Lecturer, Department of Languages, School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, Intercollege, Limassol, Cyprus

Sophia Charalambous is Senior Lecturer of English at the Department of Languages of the School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law at Intercollege, Cyprus. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science with a Minor in Imaginative Writing in 1990 and her Master’s Degree in English Literature in 1993 both from Bucknell University in the USA. Her research interests involve cultural and gender issues in education. Specifically she is examining how the categories of culture, gender, race and class interact to construct the post-modern subject at a time when the need to allow difference to exist against the scenery of standardization and abundance creates a co-dependency between diversification and globalization. She has participated in conferences with papers on cultural diversity in the classroom, and was the coordinator of a research project that aimed at investigating the attitudes of public school educators in Cyprus towards students of diverse origin.

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