The English School’s Board of Management yesterday defended it’s arrangements for Muslim students to mark the Kurban Bayrami religious celebration.
The parents of two Turkish Cypriots at the English School had complained to the Ombudsman saying that because other pupils would be attending class over the Bayrami period, their children were being discriminated against because of their religion.
Speaking to The Cyprus Daily yesterday, Board of Management Chairman Magda Nicholson said that, even though the current board had not been responsible for creating the school’s 2013-2014 academic timetables, she had looked into the matter.
She found that that in most previous years, Bayrami— a moving holiday which this year fell on October 15-18— had coincided with either half-term or staff training days.
Nicholson said this had not been the case this year, but that Muslim pupils had been made aware that they would not be marked as absent if they stayed home.
Teaching staff were instructed not to set tests on the days in question and to concentrate on revising earlier material to avoid repercussions on pupil’s learning curve.
“I also checked with the Ministry of Education and was told that Bayrami is not an official holiday in the Republic of Cyprus. If at any time the state decides to make it one we would, as a multicultural school we would be the first to incorporate it,” Nicholson said.
She continued that it was this multicultural nature that also prevented the school from closing for every religious holiday observed by any of its pupils.
“I went back as far as 1964 in my investigations and even found a document stating that it (Bayrami) would not be an official school holiday.”
She added that the board respected all religions but did not intend changing the school’s policy on the issue up until now.