Duty calls for interculturalism: how do teachers perceive the reform of intercultural education in Cyprus?
In the context of Cyprus’s accession to the European Union and a huge wave of immigration towards the country, teachers are called upon to teach within more diverse educational settings. In consideration of the substantial role teachers play in implementing intercultural education, this study explores their perceptions of the reform of intercultural education in Cyprus, which is a requirement for their further development in the field. Interviews were carried out with ten teachers and two assistant head-teachers in two primary schools which differed in terms of diversity of the student population. The participants’ responses relate to three aspects of intercultural education, namely: (a) teachers’ definitions of intercultural education; (b) the problems they face; and (c) the roles they should be playing in promoting greater inclusion of immigrant students. Findings imply that participants held conflicting perceptions of intercultural education, while they lacked cultural awareness of their immigrant students. Participants adopted individualised and collaborative strategies in order to promote intercultural education. However, teachers’ lack of intercultural preparation, along with immigrant students’ lack of language proficiency, the inadequacy of Greek Cypriot intercultural policy, and time constraints inhibited teachers’ efforts to promote greater inclusion.
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