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International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Online from: 1987

Subject Area: Education

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Strategic planning and education: the case of Cyprus


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DOI (Permanent URL): 10.1108/09513540210415505

Article citation: Andreas Tsiakkiros, Petros Pashiardis, (2002) "Strategic planning and education: the case of Cyprus", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 16 Iss: 1, pp.6 - 17


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The Authors

Andreas Tsiakkiros, Teacher and Doctoral Student, Educational Administration, University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus

Petros Pashiardis, Associate Professor of Educational Administration, Department of Education, University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus

Abstract

Aims to examine whether strategic planning can be effectively implemented in the Cyprus educational system. Initially discusses the strategic planning process and what it is all about. Then examines the main elements of the process: strategic analysis, strategic choice and strategy implementation. Subsequently refers to the application of the process in education and attempts a comparison between business and education and, at the same time, examines the extent to which this process can be effectively used in educational institutions. A brief historical background of the Cyprus Educational System is also given and, finally, a strategic plan that can be adopted for the system is proposed. Investigates all these aspects by reviewing the pertinent literature and drawing from personal professional experience.

Article Type:

Research Paper

Keyword(s):

Strategic planning; Strategic evaluation; Strategic choice; Environmental audit; Education; Cyprus.

Journal:

International Journal of Educational Management

Volume:

16

Number:

1

Year:

2002

pp:

6-17

Copyright ©

MCB UP Ltd

ISSN:

0951-354X

Introduction

We are now living in a turbulent era where nearly everything is changing at a fast pace and the future is uncertain. The existence of both organizations and individuals depends on their ability to adjust quickly and keep up with the rapid rhythm of change. Those who do not want to follow or are unable to respond to these changes will probably not be able to function properly in the long term. Having said this, many organizations have started searching for alternative ways of surviving. Most of them managed to find the ideal solution and gave examples to follow, while others did not succeed and had to choose different alternatives. There is a consensus that successful organizations mainly come from the private sector, where certain business concepts and practices are used and where their major aim is to achieve the best possible outcome with the fewest required resources. One of the concepts used in today’s successful organizations is what is known as “strategic planning”.

But what about education? What is the relationship between education and business? Pashiardis (1996) points out that educational institutions, communities, parents and legislators are all interested in the management of schools. They all want a greater participation in the whole educational process and schools are asked to be more responsive to the demands and wishes of the society which supports them. How will education fulfill the expectations of these diverse constituents? Can education borrow ideas from business and implement them successfully? To what extent can strategic planning be effectively transferred to educational institutions? What is applicable for educational systems and what is not? Based on all these questions, the main objective of this article is to explain what the process of strategic planning entails, answer the above questions and provide a strategic plan for an efficient and effective educational system in Cyprus at the primary school level.

Literature review

What is strategic planning?

As was pointed out earlier, one of the solutions successful organizations use to cope effectively with the challenges of our competitive world is “strategic planning”. In the management literature this concept may also be found in terms of “business strategy process”, “strategic management” or “corporate strategy”. More or less all writers mean the same thing. They simply “… describe the same process from different perspectives and highlight different aspects” (Fidler, 1996, p. 50). For the purposes of this article the term “strategic planning” will be used, incorporating ideas from other terms as well.

The common link of these terms is the word “strategy”, which comes from the Greek word strategos, which means “a general and the leader of the army”. According to Byars (1991, p. 13), today this word “… is used to describe the steps taken by an organization in achieving its objectives and mission”. In addition to this, Dobson and Starkey (1994) point out that the mission is the first step of the strategy process that defines the long-term vision of the organization. If an organization does not have a vision, then there is no reason for existing. What is strategic planning then? A very simple and clear definition is given by Fidler (1989) who believes that this is the process for creating and choosing a particular strategy to respond to future events and plan how to implement it.

A useful model, which in our view forms the basis for the rest, is the one developed by Johnson and Scholes (1993), and is used widely. It consists of three main elements in a triangular form, each of which has three major domains (Figure 1). These elements, which are interlinked, are:

  1. strategic analysis;
  2. strategic choice;
  3. strategy implementation.

In strategic analysis the strategist is trying to understand the position of the organization in its environment, whereas strategic choice is the generation of strategic options, the evaluation of these options and the selection of a specific strategy. Finally, strategy implementation deals with planning and allocating resources, as well as managing strategic change (Johnson and Scholes, 1993). The examination of the three main elements of the process follows.

Strategic analysis

Each element has three other major domains. Strategic analysis, according to Johnson and Scholes (1993), includes the environment, the resources, and the culture and the stakeholders’ expectations. The examination of the environment is the first step in strategic analysis and involves the identification of the organization’s current strategic position. This procedure may also be called “environmental scanning”, which Pashiardis (1996) believes is essential for an effective planning. One needs to know the environment in which one operates before making any decisions about the organization, so as to be able to match one’s capabilities with the environment in which the organization operates. A very useful framework that allows gathering and analyzing complicated information in an organized way is what is known as political, economic, sociological and technological influences (PEST or STEP), after Boyett (1996). The political influences cover both the legal and political environment, whereas the economic influences involve the economic climate in which any organization or business operates. The sociological influences involve demographic issues, income distribution, lifestyle changes or even attitudes to work or leisure and the technological influences bear in mind the technological changes. In brief, we could say that organizations perform better if they have the ability to sense changes in their environment, since they have the opportunity to modify their strategy in time.

The second domain is the resources. Successful organizations should constantly review and analyze the quality and quantity of their resources, which include human, financial, physical and intangible ones. Resource analysis will provide the way for assessing the organization’s strategic capability (Johnson and Scholes, 1993). This is necessary if sensible choices about the future strategy are to be made. Dobson and Starkey (1994) suggest that a resource audit can be undertaken through a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths and Weaknesses, which involve the internal environment, whereas Opportunities and Threats involve the external environment of the organization. We would definitely agree with Holmes and Davies (1994) who claim that, if strategic planning is successful, then it will help organizations to build on their strengths, overcome their weaknesses, take advantage of the opportunities and minimize the effect of threats.

The last area to investigate in strategic analysis is the culture of the organization and the stakeholders’ expectations. In simple terms we could say that an organizational culture means “… how things are done in an organization” (Byars, 1991, p. 9). One way of finding out the culture of an organization is by using the cultural web (Figure 2), which examines six different issues.

Johnson and Scholes (1993) explain the web as follows:

  1. Organizational structures – the ways organizations work.
  2. Power structures – those who hold the power/ the decision-makers.
  3. Symbols – present the nature of the organization.
  4. Stories – they are told by the members of the organization and provide an insight into its beliefs.
  5. Routines and rituals – things that usually happen every day.
  6. Control systems – what is important to the organization.

With the cultural web we can describe the organization’s culture as a whole and decide in what ways we might need to change it to meet the objectives set by management (Boyett, 1996). We should also have in mind the stakeholders’ expectations, since, as Fidler (1996) argues, they are those who have a special interest in the performance of the organization and their views and ideas should be borne in mind when thinking about a possible future strategy.

Strategic choice

Strategic choice follows strategic analysis and also includes three areas. As expressed by Fidler (1996, p. 104) these are: “generating options, evaluating options, making a choice”. By generating options we mean the courses of action that are available to the organization and which derive from strategic analysis. The strategic options that management faces are numerous. Finding a way to evaluate these options is the next step. In evaluating an option Dobson and Starkey (1994) suggest the following three broad criteria:

  1. Suitability – the ability of the strategic option to overcome the difficulties identified in the strategic analysis.
  2. Feasibility – an assessment of how this option might work in practice.
  3. Acceptability – consequences of the risk to interested parties by selecting this particular option.

The last step is to make a choice, that is to select a strategy or strategies that prove to be the most viable. Dobson and Starkey (1994), point out that three different ways can be used: competitive strategies (try to achieve a superior profit compared with rivals), development strategies (decide the most appropriate direction or method in which the organization must move) and portfolio strategies (maintain a portfolio of activities). Bearing all these things in mind, management has to generate some choices, evaluate them and select those strategies that the organization will pursue. In the following section an attempt will be made to discuss strategy implementation in some detail.

Strategy implementation

There is no point in discussing strategic analysis and choice, if the organization is not capable of implementing the strategies. Implementing a strategy includes various problems of which management needs to be aware and to plan how to handle them. Johnson and Scholes (1993) believe that the main ones are planning and allocating resources, organizational structure and design and managing strategic change.

Knight (1993) states that, to achieve a strategy, resources will be required and will need to be allocated. Therefore, organizations need to consider ways of acquiring resources and deploying them in the best possible way to support the strategies. Furthermore, they need to consider the issue of how resources should be allocated between the different parts or departments of the organization. As far as organizational structure is concerned, it could be said that it is a very significant aspect, since the way people are organized is crucial to the effectiveness of strategy. Johnson and Scholes (1993) describe organizational design as the development of flesh on the structure, which becomes a means of a top-down control. Finally, strategic planning is concerned with the management of strategic change. Fullan (1992) considers change as a process of learning new ideas and things. Management should have the ability to realize when the present strategy is no longer adequate and be aware of when change is necessary. Kotter and Schlesinger (1991) claim that change usually brings some form of human resistance. They suggest that one way to overcome this resistance is to educate people beforehand and try to avoid the two most common mistakes managers make, which are: to use only one approach or a limited set of them, regardless of the situation, and to approach change in an incoherent way that is not a part of a clearly planned strategy. When these ideas are implemented, then it is believed that the success of the organization is ensured to a large extent.

The application of strategic planning to education

Comparison between business and education

It must be admitted that there is some difficulty in comparing business with education, simply because for many years they have been regarded as two discrete and separate domains that dealt with completely different things. The fact that there is almost nothing in the management literature about this issue is just a clue to the problem. In addition to this, Brunt (1987) believes that there is a considerable resistance to equating the activities of a school with the activities of any other organization – a factory, for example. He suggests that it is not necessary to draw a strict equation. It is adequate to draw a parallel. In Figure 3, we have tried to draw this parallel, by comparing business and education and by pointing out some similarities and differences.

As far as the similarities are concerned, the major task of both business and education is to make a profit. One could argue that their profit is different, but what matters is that in one way or another they both seek to achieve something. Their resources are always limited, since there is a scarcity and they are constantly trying to obtain more for themselves. In contrast, their needs are usually unlimited and they are trying to satisfy as many as possible. Based on these two facts, Papadopoulos and Economides (1995) express the basic economic problem faced not only by people but also by organizations: how will they satisfy their unlimited needs with the limited resources that they have available? The answer is that organizations and people have to put their needs in a sequence according to their priority and try to satisfy most of them with the least required resources and cost. Moreover, business and education have clients who are always demanding and are both trying to leave them satisfied, since the clients are those who will ensure their future. A final similarity is that business and education have competitors. All organizations are competing with one another, either for clients or for resources (in the case of the public sector). Being a step ahead of your competitors is of vital importance.

Business and education have not only similarities but differences as well. One of their main differences is their structure. Business organizations usually have an unstable structure, which varies according to the particular organization and the changes that happen in society. Conversely, education has a stable structure that does not have the flexibility to change easily. Their inputs and processes are also different. Business can control its inputs and its process can be varied and flexible. In education, on the other hand, the inputs cannot be controlled and the processes are quite inflexible. Most of the business organizations have a decentralized system and their vision is either short-term or medium-term, whereas in education (especially in Cyprus) the systems are usually centralized and the vision is long term. Finally, the product in business is visible, but in education it is not easily visible, since one has to wait for quite a long time to see whether the product is really good or not.

Historical background of the Cyprus educational system

This is a good point at which to mention a few general comments about the Cyprus educational system (CES) in order to set the context for the case study that follows. The CES has been an important subsystem of Cypriot society. It has expressed the society’s spiritual, economic and technological achievements throughout the years. According to the Ministry of Education (1992), education in Cyprus in ancient timess was practiced at home and was a privilege of the rich (AD 330-1191). Later on children went to schools that were near churches and monasteries (AD 1191-1571). Polydorou (1995) adds that, when the Ottoman Turks occupied Cyprus (1571-1878), education was not organized at all and they did not show any interest in the spiritual development of the Cypriots. It was then that the Church of Cyprus showed its interest in the education of children and started building schools in towns and villages. Most of the teachers were priests and the system was decentralized. Great Britain followed the same policy until the British Government decided to colonize Cyprus (1878-1960). The CES became centralized, as Maratheftis (1992) explains, because the aim was to control education and give all the power to the director of education. After independence (1960-1974) the system remained centralized and started to develop rapidly, both in a qualitative and in a quantitative way.

The growth and prosperity of the CES who interrupted temporarily by the Turkish invasion in 1974, when 42 per cent of students lost their schools and 41 per cent of teachers were kept away from their workplaces by force (Ministry of Education, 1992). Fortunately, with the co-operation of all stakeholders the problems were overcome quickly and education managed to continue its upward trend and has now reached adequate standards. Of course, there is still room for further improvement.

We have tried to describe briefly the historical background of the CES, so as to lay out its general framework and give the government’s philosophy as far as education is concerned. To sum up, we could say that the fundamental components of the CES are the historical past, the political and social present, as well as the vision for the future.

The extent to which strategic planning can be effectively implemented in education

A number of writers such as Fidler (1989), Byars (1991) and Hanson and Henry (1992) believe that strategic planning is as applicable in the field of education as in any other organization. Lumby (1999) concludes from her research that strategic planning had brought benefits to the colleges that were engaged in it. Perrott (1996) goes beyond that and adds that, if public sector organizations want to meet their new challenges, then they have to look to the private sector for guidance.

Generally, we could say that strategic planning can be effectively implemented in education to a great extent. We have reached this conclusion by considering carefully the related literature and bearing in mind Cyprus’ educational system. That is why we have compared business and education first and examined the background of the system afterwards, because we believe that the three main elements of the process are applicable to education in their general form. Since business organizations have used this process successfully, we see no reason why education cannot do the same. We have, though, some reservations that we will discuss in detail later.

Educational institutions, according to Fidler (1996), can use the process if they have a specific problem to solve, or if they want to improve an already successful performance. The aim of the schools, as seen by Chaffee (1990), should be to increase quality and productivity in order to cope with foreseeable socioeconomic problems and to demonstrate behaviors and attitudes so that students can ensure their own future. To do this, educational institutions need to examine and analyze the environment in which they work, their resources, their culture and their stakeholders’ expectations. In a nutshell, they need to know their strategic position, if they are going to be able to adequately respond to the demands of society at large. After that schools need to identify the options they have at their disposal, critically evaluate and assess them and finally select what can be achieved. The last component which Holmes and Davies (1994) consider to be the most difficult and at the same time the most challenging, during the strategic planning process, is the implementation stage. They suggest that, if we want to have a successful implementation, then we must involve everybody in the stages of formulation and develop a firm commitment to making things happen.

On the other hand, there are some reservations about the whole philosophy. Pashiardis (1993, p. 6) claims that “implementing strategic planning within public schools is somewhat different from implementing it within the private business sector”. We cannot consider business and education as being exactly the same thing. Education’s vision is to create free, democratic citizens with a healthy personality, who will be able to contribute to their country’s progress and promote co-operation, understanding and love between people and nations (Ministry of Education and Culture, 1996). Business organizations definitely do not have such a vision. The aims and means of education are more humane, since they deal with the creation and development of human beings. Sometimes business uses ways and methods that are not so ethical to achieve its goals. Clearly education cannot use anything like that, because it teaches ethos and integrity and, at the end of the process, will be severely judged by its stakeholders. Brunt (1987, p. 220) reminds us that “… education is both the journey and the arrival, both a process and a product”. As educators we should be careful about what is applicable in our field and what is not and be able to draw a line when necessary. The process of education cannot be used as a means to an end.

In the following section of this paper, a six-year strategic plan that can be adopted for the whole CES is suggested. Six years is the minimum time to organize the effort, put the plan into practice and evaluate the first outcomes. However, there is an important precondition that needs to be taken into account, in order to have the desirable results: the educational system should get rid of its three structural characteristics that keep it tied in the past. These, according to Pashiardis (1999), are: centralization, conservatism, and unionism. The decentralization and the empowerment of school units are very important elements, since in this way emphasis will be given to the particularities and the special needs of each individual school unit.

Strategic planning in the context of the CES

Environmental analysis

To understand better the strategic position of the system, that is the “Where are we now?” element, and determine the dominant environmental factors that might have an effect in the future, the system’s internal and external environment will be analyzed through the PEST and SWOT analyses and the cultural web technique. In this way, the environment, the resources and the culture of the CES will be examined respectively.

PEST analysis

The most important environmental factors that affect the system are presented in the PEST diagram in Figure 4. The radical and ongoing changes occurring in society create an uncertain environment and have an impact on the function of the whole organization.

Political issues involve the situation caused by the 1974 Turkish invasion and the possibility of finding a viable solution to the problem. The course of harmonization with the European Union (EU) is another issue, since certain measures must be undertaken. In addition, there is an ongoing debate for a new evaluation and promotion scheme for teachers, and some innovations that are currently introduced, such as the whole day school, the introduction of information and communication technology in primary education and the unified lyceum in secondary education. The economic influences that affect the system are:

  • the government policy for low investments in the public sector (it includes education too);
  • the creation of new needs; and
  • the fact that the cost of resources is increasing year by year.

From the sociological aspect the environmental influences on the CES include: population demographics, explosion of knowledge, low birth-rates, changes in people’s lifestyles, consumerism, new attitudes to work, a gap between working classes and cheap labor. As far as the technological domain is concerned, there are rapid technological changes, the fact that the introduction of technology in education is a necessity, and finally the realization that systems become obsolete very quickly due to their rapid development.

SWOT analysis

SWOT analysis is an equally useful tool, because we can identify the system’s strengths and weaknesses, and opportunities and threats. We have tried to rank information according to its importance and rank each forecast in terms of probability (1 = very unlikely, 5 = certain), timing (1 = long-term, 2 = medium, 3 = short-term) and impact (+5 = good, –5 = bad) as in Table I.

Among the strengths, skilled and committed employees are considered the most prominent, since, as Day (1993, p. 3) points out, “teachers are the schools’ greatest asset”. If teachers are given the opportunity, then they can contribute a lot to the whole process. Other strengths of the system are the good community links that schools have, the curriculum and teaching aids available, the culture and ethos of the system and the flexibility to introduce innovations. Needless to say, the system has to capitalize on its strengths. Attention, on the other hand, has to be given to the weaknesses. The most important one is the organizational structure. The foremost weakness is that the director of primary education changes very often due to the antiquated promotion system to this powerful post in Cyprus. Inadequate financial resources, lack of technology, few promotion opportunities and lack of co-operation among schools are some other weaknesses that plague primary education in Cyprus.

The opportunities the system should explore are those deriving from the EU’s perspective (and Cyprus’ potential full membership of the EU), and the increasing interest shown by society at large. The CES can also concentrate on the favorable public image (which it still enjoys) and the need to increase public funds. All these opportunities should be exploited to the fullest extent. Threats such as political and economic uncertainty, increased involvement of parents in wrongful ways, and competition by private schools must be overcome by appraising them continuously and realistically.

Cultural web

To complement the environmental analysis the culture of the CES will now be examined, which is regarded as a crucial factor associated with the success of the organization (Fidler, 1996). To do this, the cultural web will be used (see Figure 5).

The organizational structure is characterized by a vertical (tall) hierarchy and a difficulty in communication between individuals and departments. The control system is enforced through the principals and deputies, the curriculum, the teachers’ evaluation system and the bell. The routines and rituals most commonly used are the school assemblies, breaks, staff meetings, training programs, and the assessment and promotions systems. The stories most frequently mentioned are that the principal’s main job is to ring the bell, caretakers have more power than principals and that if you want to get a promotion you should have good connections. Symbols such as the principal’s separate office, the staff room and students’ uniform dress code are also important. As far as the power structure is concerned, this mainly comes from the Minister of Education, the inspectors, the communities, and the teachers’ and parents’ associations. Any changes in the culture of the system are not so easy and, as a result, the culture should be taken into account when working out for a strategic plan.

Strategic choices – what are the options?

Having completed the environmental analysis, the future evolution of the system follows, which is known as the “Where are we going?” element (Holmes and Davies, 1994) of the strategic planning process. After thoughtful consideration, the writers have identified a set of ten choices that the CES can pursue, by evaluating them with reference to their suitability, feasibility and acceptability. For each choice the most appropriate strategy to follow is suggested, as in Table II.

Some choices need competitive strategies (school effectiveness and improvement, marketing and public relations), others need development strategies (appointment of a charismatic and educated leader, financial resources), while others need portfolio strategies (harmonization with the EU, staff development). Finally, the length of time each choice needs to be fully achieved (long-, medium or short-term) has been identified and the cost that each one incurs (high, medium or low) has been determined. For example, the community links require medium time and high cost, whereas special education requires long time and medium cost.

Implementation – what about the future?

In order to implement the strategic choices, certain ideas, decisions and directions must be followed. These, starting again from the first priority, are:

  1. The ministry’s first move should be to appoint charismatic and well-educated leaders to the posts of the director of primary and secondary education. These must have enough time to introduce innovations, work systematically on a strategic plan for the whole system, implement it and assess it as well. What is needed are educational entrepreneurs who have the ten attributes identified by Boyett and Finlay (1993) in their survey. These characteristics are: vision, acceptance of responsibility and ability to allocate resources, delegate, organize, reduce individual and team stress, think long-term, motivate everybody and select and develop a good team.
  2. School effectiveness and improvement are an area in which particular importance should be given. According to the Unesco (1997) report about the island’s educational system, national standards should be set, so that we may know where we stand and may be able to take remedial actions to increase the quality of education and students’ efficiency. Each school unit should prepare its own development plan and organize what it does and what needs to be done in a purposeful and cohesive way. After that, action plans should be developed in which priorities, aims, objectives and success criteria will be included (Hargreaves et al., 1989). In addition, Pashiardis and Kriemadis (1999) suggest that the process of self-evaluation will help schools locate their strengths as well as domains that need improvement. As a result, the quality of teaching will improve and, subsequently, the educational standards will rise.
  3. In Cyprus, staff development is a neglected area. Since one of the strengths of the system identified in the SWOT analysis is its skilled and committed employees, then the central authorities (i.e. the Ministry of Education) must use them to the fullest extent and maximize their potential. Some ways of doing this are: involve them actively in the process, for example, ask them questions and accept suggestions, discuss and assess with them the key features; offer stronger promotion prospects to those teachers who have qualifications and not just years of experience; organize seminars, lectures, speeches and summer schools to train teachers for this concept, and give a considerable number of scholarships for postgraduate programs.
  4. Bearing in mind the Government’s policy for low investments in education, schools must be given the opportunity to obtain financial resources by themselves. Initiatives must be undertaken to provide extra financial input, beyond the one given by the state. Ways of doing this might include advertisements, sponsorships or other activities. Obtaining extra money will allow schools to improve their facilities, acquire new resources, expand their programs and adjust them according to their needs.
  5. Cyprus’ accession to the EU is one of the Government’s first priorities. Inevitably, education has to harmonize itself with the European “aquis communitaire”. The Ministry of Education must give a European orientation to primary and secondary education and adopt many of the ideas and practices of European educational systems. In this way, Cyprus’ accession will be easier when the right time comes.
  6. Emphasis should also be given to the development of community links. This includes local authorities, local organizations, parents, and everybody else who has an interest in schooling. Schools must take advantage of their concern and experience and involve them to a greater extent in the running of the institutions. Boyett and Finlay (1996, p. 35) conclude from their experience that: “… the best decisions are made when there is a maximum involvement by all stakeholders, who have first been provided with full access to the best information available.”
  7. For this reason, they should be regarded as partners and helpers in teachers’ efforts and, given the opportunity, should take part in the process of decision-making by providing them with the necessary information.
  8. Providing more and better equipment for the schools must be a constant aim of the Ministry of Education. New technology must be introduced, which should be adequate as an interesting and exciting learning experience for all involved. The political decision that was taken recently to equip all primary schools with a computer and a printer is a positive step in the right direction. Installing computers, though, is not enough. What is needed are adequate technical support, staff training and suitable software to work effectively.
  9. Educational marketing and public relations are another choice to which the system should pay attention, because they are an important aspect of strategic planning (Furse, 1989; James and Phillips, 1995). The time has come when schools should work to improve the image conveyed to their stakeholders and convince them of the quality and high standard of their efforts. Schools can promote themselves through the school brochure and use the staff and children as ambassadors of their work. As a result, benign competition among schools will be introduced, albeit on a small scale. One problem, though, is that parents in Cyprus do not have the opportunity to choose their child’s school. The positive thing is that people’s ideas and views about schools will begin to change gradually. In addition, good public relations will contribute to these aims.
  10. Another equally important choice on which the system can work is the links with other institutions, either public or private. Principals, teachers, and students can gain a lot from the exchange of ideas and experience. Neighboring schools can organize common staff meetings, sports activities, excursions or visits to promote collaboration, co-operation and good communication with one another. Private schools must be regarded as partners and not as rivals or as threats. Thus, links between schools can benefit for all concerned.
  11. The twenty-first century is mainly characterized by the respect of human rights and the provision of equal opportunities to all human beings regardless of their age, race, gender or ability. Students with special needs (handicapped, gifted or less able) must be given extra attention. Support services within the main stream of education have to be initiated by appointing specialized staff and providing all the necessary aids for their learning.

It is obvious that all these ideas cannot be implemented from one day to the other or in a short-term time-span. What is needed is hard work, good will and persistence by all those who have a direct interest and concern for education to make them happen.

Conclusion

We have considered the main aspects of strategic planning, discussed the extent to which this process can be effectively implemented to education and have suggested a strategic plan for the CES. Within the range of this article, we have tried to examine the most important domains of the issue.

If we want education to improve and to be able to meet the demanding challenges of the new millennium and survival in the long term, then strategic planning should be adopted without any further delay. However, we should be aware of possible tensions, which might arise from the transfer of business ethics to education, and be ready to deal with them effectively. In today’s world of uncertainty what we need are energetic and visionary leaders who will make the first move, inspire the rest by showing them the correct path and persuade them to follow the process (Pashiardis, 1993). One way to do this is through strategic planning, which can ensure success. It is up to us educators to take advantage of this for the benefit of education in particular and of society in general.

ImageThe Johnson and Scholes model
Figure 1 The Johnson and Scholes model

ImageThe cultural web of an organization
Figure 2 The cultural web of an organization

ImageComparison between business and education
Figure 3 Comparison between business and education

ImageThe PEST analysis of the CES
Figure 4 The PEST analysis of the CES

ImageThe SWOT analysis of the CES
Table I The SWOT analysis of the CES

ImageThe cultural web of the CES
Figure 5 The cultural web of the CES

ImageStrategic choices for the CES
Table II Strategic choices for the CES

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