Cyprus: Row erupts over school prayers after teacher’s reported refusal

The education ministry issued a statement, saying the teachers need to make sure the morning prayers take place in their classroom

A row about the saying of prayers at a public school has reignited the discussion on religious activities in the education system.

It was reported on Tuesday that a teacher at a Larnaca school refused to hold the ritual morning prayer, saying “God does not exist and prayers should take place at home and not in school.”

The teacher of a sixth-grade class is said to have ignored the complaints of parents and pupils regarding her behaviour. Organised parents were quick to support the existing system.

Morning prayers at primary schools are an opportunity to show respect for all religions, head of the primary parents’ union Poed Philios Phylactou said.

According to Phylactou, it is important to note the teachers do not have to pray themselves, but merely to arrange for those students who wish to pray.

“Children who are not Greek Orthodox do not have to join in, they can have their own prayers or can look at the ceiling if they want to,” Phylactou explained. “I see it as an opportunity to show concern and respect.”

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