22 January 2014 14:45

Pupil leaders are gearing up to demonstrate on Thursday against the newly introduced €15 per month school bus fare which they say is "unfair and unaffordable".
Only the coordinating councils of pupils unions from various schools will demonstrate, to counter criticism that the youngsters were just looking for another excuse to skip class.
Speaking to The Cyprus Daily yesterday, head of the Cyprus Pupils Coordinating Committee (PSEM) Panayiotis Monoyios said many pupils and their families are already struggling to pay for their necessary school supplies and should not be further burdened with bus fares.  
"The demonstration is in protest of the Ministry of Communications' refusal to retract this new fare on the school buses. And we will continue to demonstrate until we enter dialogue and have positive results."
Monoyios went on to describe the ministry's recent statement that bus fares for secondary students were introduced as part of the bailout deal with the Troika as  "a preposterous excuse".
"The Ministry of Communications is required to raise funds through the public transport system but the Troika never demanded that pupils should be the ones burdened."
The demo will be held outside the Communications Ministry in Nicosia tomorrow, at 11.30am where they will express their position against the new transport fare.
"We are also being supported by all other student, parent and educational organisations on the island," said Monoyios.
He added that as PSEM had compromised on its original demands, it expected the ministry to at least discuss the matter further.
"We initially wanted free bus transportation for secondary students at all times, however, in light of the economic difficulties our country is facing we are now willing to settle for free bus rides to our schools."
According to PSEM, the Ministry of Communications did not contact the student organisation on Monday to enter dialogue on the matter as promised.
"We have still not heard back from them and for this reason we are protesting on Thursday. We want to send the message that our education is not something we will compromise."
Minister of Communications Tasos Mitsopoulos explained last week that the €15 fare introduced on January 6 is in fact only 50% of the normal fee and covers the actual cost of the student buses while the rest is paid for by the state budget.
Primary school pupils are exempt from paying the new bus fare as are students whose families have qualified to receive state welfare benefits.


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