Children of graduates attend private schools from the age of three, when they set foot in kindergarten, until they are 17 or even 18, graduating from high school. The state pays the tuition fees of the children of diplomats in installments as follows:
for the first child 85% of the annual tuition is covered, for the second child 90% of the annual tuition, for the third child 95% of the annual tuition, while for the fourth child and above the state bears the entire cost of the tuition . This privilege is enjoyed horizontally by all members of the diplomatic corps and they are entitled to the so-called educational allowance whether they serve in the center, ie in Nicosia, or abroad in diplomatic missions. The educational allowance is also received by other members of the permanent staff of the public and educational service who serve only abroad. From 2019 onwards the state pays an amount in excess of € 1 million per year to cover the tuition fees of the private schools attended by the children of our graduates, who are the majority and as estimated in five years the cost will approach € 2 million per year. For the last, at least five years, the Auditor General, Odysseas Michailidis, has been urging the issue of the payment of this allowance, which he considers provocative and is not the only one. with regard to the maximum amount of the allowance to be paid annually per child, in direct relation to the level of education (secondary, primary, pre-primary) and the country in which the beneficiary is serving.
The last time the Auditor General raised the issue with his report was in June 2021 and as we are informed he will return to the issue with a new report, as he still considers that the way it is paid today is a challenge for society. The current candidate for the presidency of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Nikos Christodoulidis, is being checked for the decisions he did not make while sitting in the chair of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in order to comply with the recommendations of the Auditor General, who requested and continues to request the review of the payment method. educational allowance. Critics of Mr. Christodoulidis attribute to him expediencies and specific financial incentives for the complete inaction he showed: Mr. Christodoulidis's wife, Mr. Filippa Karsera, is a member of the diplomatic corps, therefore the state largely covers the tuition fees of private in which their four children attend. In short, what is attributed to Mr. Christodoulidis is that he did not proceed with the revision-reduction of the educational allowance, as the recommendation of the auditor general, because he was benefiting financially.
Provocative privilege… >
“Members of the diplomatic service have the provocative privilege of sending their children almost free of charge to the most expensive private schools of their choice, even when they are serving in Cyprus or when they are serving abroad but their children live in Cyprus.” . This allowance reached € 1 million in 2019 and almost doubled from 2016. The Audit Office considers the amount extremely high and challenging, especially under the difficult fiscal conditions that the state and the country in general are going through. Indicating to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the use of this allowance should be done with prudence, rationality and sparing. According to the Audit Office, in the year 2019, an educational allowance of € 1.1 million was paid to members of the diplomatic service, as well as to other members of the permanent staff of the public and educational service who served abroad. It is noteworthy that the amount of the educational allowance shows an increasing trend in recent years: in 2016 it amounted to € 535,069, in 2017 to € 563,015 and in 2018 to € 802,346. Therefore, the state for the years 2016-2019 paid an educational allowance of € 2,882,350. For the school year 2019-2020, a total amount of tuition fees of € 1,100,944 was approved, which covered a total of 63 applications of officials for educational allowance concerning the attendance of a total of 93 children in private pre-primary, primary and secondary education.
Tuition and costs
According to the report of the Audit Office (June 2021), from the audit of the educational allowance of € 1,100,944 paid in the school year 2019-2020, the following findings emerged: In some cases, there was a large variation in the amount of the approved tuition fees, e.g. tuition fees approved for children attending primary education in Nicosia (fifth grade) range between € 5,060 & # 8211; € 10,175, while in Brussels tuition fees were approved for children in pre-primary education amounting to € 8,140 – € 19,140. The payment of an educational allowance of € 294,660 for the education of 44 children in Cyprus was approved. Indicatively, it is mentioned that the annual tuition fees for children in Cyprus range at the Junior School at approximately € 6,346 & # 8211; € 7,604 (primary education), at Senior School at € 7,155 & # 8211; € 7,427 (secondary education), at American International School at € 8,600 & # 8211; € 17,046 (primary and secondary education) and at the English School at € 7,500 (secondary education). “Essentially, what emerges is that the members of the diplomatic service enjoy a provocative privilege, to send their children almost for free to the most expensive private schools of their choice, even when they serve in Cyprus or when they serve abroad, but the children they live in Cyprus “, comments Odysseas Michailidis in his report. At the same time, making the following recommendations: The education allowance plan should be reviewed and, inter alia, frameworks and criteria should be defined regarding the maximum amount of the allowance paid annually per child, in relation to the level of education (secondary, primary, pre-primary) and the country in which the employee serves, always bearing in mind that the use of the educational allowance should be done with prudence, rationality and sparing.
Foreign Minister's response to Odysseus
Foreign Minister's response to Odysseus The Audit Office, prior to the publication of its report last June, duly requested the views of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the educational allowance in order to include them in its report. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was Mr. Nikos Christodoulidis, who disagreed with the recommendations of the Auditor General for reduction and revision of the method of payment of the educational allowance, stating the following:
1 As a matter of principle it is accepted that the children of diplomats, due to the nature of their parents' work which forces them to move to different countries with different languages of education, are under the circumstances obliged to study from the beginning of their education in English, mainly speech, schools.
2 Regarding the recommendation regarding the need to define a framework and criteria for the maximum amount of the educational allowance paid annually, it should be clarified that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in an effort to remove distortions and rationalize the expenditure of the relevant budget, from 2012 internal best practice guide, which defines the parameters that should be taken into account and which are: The possibilities provided by each city/country for children to attend public education, as well as the possibilities provided for Greek, English or French education. The amount of training fees per institution/training stage. The age of the children/stage of study (pre-primary, primary, secondary education) and the possibilities of enrolling in a public/private school, on the basis of their previous education or language of instruction or other special circumstances.
3 Given that the choice of schools can be based not only on the economic aspect, but also on the quality, the above guide provides children with the opportunity for uniform education depending on the country in which they are located and the education options offered there, as well as the stage of education where each child is. The treatment of a child who will join the pre-primary school is different, another of a child who attends primary school and others should be the criteria for a child attending secondary education whose special educational needs based on the system that already follows should to be respected.
4 We can not compare dissimilar things, such as the educational options provided in Berlin with those in Beijing or those in Nicosia with those in Brasilia. Such a comparison, in addition to being misleading, may lead to decisions that do not satisfy the legal sense of the officials serving in the diplomatic missions.
5 In cases where children have been included in a specific education program (eg English system, American system, etc.), it is necessary for them to continue attending a school where the specific program is implemented so as not to disrupt their educational program, especially in secondary education. It is not right and it is against the rights of the child to make any decision that will result in his “compulsion” to stop attending a specific educational program in order to follow any cheaper option. In addition, there are countries that do not provide a choice because they have e.g. an American or British school.
6 Another important parameter that is considered is the time of transfer of the official, which objectively does not provide him with the possibility of many options in the country that is transferred. Reservations for school children usually take place from January, while transfers are notified to employees much later. In this regard, it is stated that there are countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Brazil, where due to the limited number of English/French schools and the large number of foreigners working in them, there is a waiting list for enrollment of children up to two years. Therefore, the education of the children in a school which may be cheaper may not always be a feasible option.
The allowance for the Christodoulidis couple will reach € 500,000 /p>
Kasoulidis did nothing either
The Audit Office raises the issue of reviewing the educational allowance with its reports from 2017, when Mr. Ioannis Kasoulidis was sitting in the chair of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The latter handed over the reins to Mr. Christodoulidis in February 2018. Neither Mr. Kasoulidis took any action to implement the recommendations of the Auditor General, as the same recommendation was repeated in the report of the Audit Office in June 2021. If Mr. Kasoulidis, with the suggestions of the auditor general for a downward revision of the educational allowance, has at his disposal almost 10 months to do so.
The Ministry returned 15% of the allowance to the diplomats >
It should be noted that the educational allowance, after the reactions of diplomats, was excluded from the long list of public allowances that the Council of Ministers reduced by 15% in 2013, in the name of the financial crisis. All other allowances are still paid at a reduced rate of 15%. which they receive and which is a provocative privilege, according to the Audit Office. The BoD of the Foreign Ministry pointed out to “P” the following:
The educational allowance plan has been instituted to meet the educational needs of the children of the Foreign Service of the Republic of Cyprus in the countries where each colleague is called to serve, as well as the inalienable right to be accompanied by his family. Therefore, the family circumstances of each colleague should always be taken into account.
- The Republic of Cyprus has 54 Diplomatic Missions abroad, in countries most of which are not English-speaking and in almost none of them, with the exception of Greece, is the possibility of education in the Greek language. Therefore, there should be no question of the need for the children of diplomats to study in international schools that follow a uniform education system.
- The Republic of Cyprus provides the right to free education to the children of all its citizens. Consequently, this constitutional right must also apply in the cases of members of the Diplomatic Service who are called to serve abroad. The issue primarily concerns the right of the child himself to access free and quality education, as is the case with all citizens of the Republic of Cyprus. Education focuses on the child and his rights must be guaranteed. Therefore, the examination of the subject should not be limited to its accounting aspect.
- Despite the criticisms that from time to time see the light of day, we emphasize that the entire amount of tuition fees for the children of diplomats is not covered by the Republic of Cyprus and there is a contribution from us with a certain percentage of tuition fees. It should also be noted that the curriculum plan, and in particular how it is implemented, includes country-specific restrictions on tuition fees per institution and stage of education, children's enrollment opportunities, language of instruction, and special circumstances. Strict procedure is followed through successive hierarchical approval of the school and tuition is paid directly to the educational institution through transparent procedures. regardless of the countries to which their diplomatic parents will be transferred. More specifically, diplomats are invited to serve in countries with completely different educational systems and languages of instruction (such as China, Finland, Iran, Mexico, Hungary, etc.), where the only possibility provided is that of international schools with uniform curricula. . Therefore, and in order to avoid learning difficulties during the stay of the parents in Cyprus, the children of the colleagues necessarily follow the same educational program, both abroad and in Cyprus, always taking into account the prospect of re-transfer. of their parents