After the 1974 Turkish invasion, the elementary schools in Nicosia, Larnaca and Limassol were renamed "Nareg" after the distinguished 10th century poet-priest Krikor of Nareg. A single headmaster, at present Mrs. Vera Tahmazian, overseas all three primary schools.
Armenian primary schools in Cyprus ("Nareg") are all supported financially by the Cyprus government but act independently in matters such as the curriculum or internal organization. They are also supervised by the Ministry of Education and Culture of Cyprus and therefore the standard is in line with the rest of the government schools around the island.
The School Committee Members are appointed by the Parliamentary representativeof the Armenian community, while the teachers are appointed by The School Committee, except the Greek language teacher.
Nicosia is the principal cultural centre of the Armenian Cypriots.
The first Armenian school in Nicosia was built in 1887 with donations from Armenian communities of Egypt, France and England. In 1921 and again in 1938, with contributions from the Melikian and Ouzounian families, two new premises were built. The school continued to function under the name Melikian-Ouzounian until 1963, when it was taken over by the Turks after the inter-communal fighting between the Greeks Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
A temporary school was constructed on the premises of the Melkonian Educational Institute, which was used until 1972 when, with a generous donation from the Cyprus government, a new fully equipped school was built on Armenia Street. This school is called "Nareg", as are the other two Armenian primary schools in Cyprus.
Although Limassol is the second largest city in Cyprus, it is home to very few Armenians, although 250 in number it does have its own church and primary school.
The school was built in 1951 on the premises of the "Sourp Kevork" church. Throughout the years some renovations were made to the school until finally in 2007 a new modern school was build. Because of the small number of pupils, some teachers teach both in Limassol and in Larnaca.
Larnaca, the third largest city of Cyprus has the second largest Armenian community. Its primary school was built in 1909, the same year that the Armenian Church "Sourp Stepanos" was built. In 1923, with donations from Armenian communities of Egypt and the USA, a new school was built which was expanded in 1926 thanks to Garabed Melkonian (founder of the Melkonian Institude). Finally in 1995, with the help of the Cyprus government, a completely new and modern school was built.
Currently the only Armenian secondary school ("Gymnasium") is in Nicosia, it has a three year curriculum after which the students continue their education in Greek Secondary Schools. The "Gymnasium" belongs to the "Nareg" school and is equevalent to the first 3 years of Greek secondary schools.
MEI (Melkonian Educational Institude)
The Melkonian Educational Institute was the largest boarding school for Armenians in the Diaspora. It was built by two brothers, Krikor and Garabed Melkonian. The project started in 1924 and completed in 1926. Of the two brothers, only Garabed Melkonian was fortunate enough to witness the completion.
In the beginning, it was an orphanage for Armenians who had survived the 1915 Genocide. Gradually, it turned into a world renowned secondary school. The school and its property of 16 buildings, football and basketball fields, a small forest and a large plot of land, belong to the AGBU.
Over the years, more than 1500 Armenians have graduated from "Melkonian" from over 20 countries, ranging from the Middle East to North and South Americas.
"Melkonian" used to play a crucial role in the cultural, educational and athletic life of the Armenian Cypriots. In 2001, the school celebrated its 75th anniversary amid great pomp and celebrations, both in Cyprus and abroad but in 2005, with the decision of the AGBU Central Board of Directors it was closed for good.