Tuesday Jul 29, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
31o C
24o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Citizens' academies doing brisk business

By Ioanna Fotiadi

An 18-year-old student, a 30-year-old office worker, a priest, a 60-year-old farmer and an unemployed PhD student sit side by side, notebooks poised, waiting for the lecture to begin. Throughout Greece there are currently 45 so-called citizens’ academies, an education program inspired by a group of professors at the University of the Aegean who founded the first “people’s university” in 2010 on the island of Lesvos.

“Our doors are open to everyone,” said Efstratios Papanis, an assistant professor and one of the founding fathers of the initiative, during a recent interview. “Our intention is not to replace formal educational institutions but to act as a counterweight. The academies are basically like an initiation process that often lead to student retaking their university entrance exams or starting a postgraduate degree.”

The students at the citizens’ academies are anywhere from 18 to 85 years old, though the average age is 35-55 and most are women.

“These are mostly people who want to expand their horizons, to fulfill an adolescent academic dream or to open up more career opportunities,” said Papanis. “Over half of them are unemployed.”

The academies run four-year courses that include local lore, life experience and intuition to explore subjects rather than just the science or theory behind them.

“A farmer may share his experiences and we will expand on it to put it into a systematic and theoretical framework,” explained Papanis.

The lectures are delivered by professors from all over the country and have a more conversational tone rather than following a strict curriculum. The professors also move around from one class to another, meaning that every class is unique.

In the first year of the academies, students are taught psychology and counseling, before voting for what they would like to explore next. The most popular subjects are journalism, primary medicine, history, history of art, Greek language and economics. The cost of 26 three-hour lectures is 80 euros a year and half that for the unemployed, students, people with more than three children, single parents and those with special needs. Students who can’t make it to class can follow it via Skype or in the recorded video version which is uploaded on the platform of the academies.

“We are also asked to hold professional orientation seminars or to set up discussion groups on specific topics, such as depression,” said Papanis. “Without doubt, loneliness is one of the factors that motivates many to come to us.”

The turnout at the academies is more than impressive. The Volos Academy, for example, has 1,200 students, while academies are also being planned for far-flung parts of the country such as the islands of Aghios Efstratios and Limnos.

Meanwhile, the president of the cultural center in the village of Kalloni on Lesvos, Theocharis Pelekos, recently inaugurated a new school.

“I was one of the first students of the Mytilene Academy,” said Pelekos, 50, an army officer. “I am now in my third year and it has changed my life: I have learned how to deal with stressful situations and ways to help my mother, who is elderly.”

Three priests, the deputy mayor and all the staff at the local medical center have already enrolled at the new academy.

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday October 10, 2012 (18:17)  
Greeks Gone West: Greg Pappas
Gazi, from industrial backwater to urban hot spot
Greeks Gone West: Greg Yatanes
Study finds Greeks with soft spot for conspiracy theories are more likely to hold anti-Semitic views
Doomful Placebo play southern Athens roof-top venue
Placebo’s fans in Greece are expected to welcome the brilliantly doomful band on Friday, August 8, as part of their international tour, for a one-time performance at the Peace and Friendship...
Thessaloniki producing a homegrown brand of manga
A group of writers (genshaku-sha), and cartoonists (mangaka) in the northern port city of Thessaloniki are making a splash with manga fans by producing their own online series, which has alr...
Inside Life
Inside Travel
Inside Gastronomy
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Archaeological council bans international climbers´ gathering at Meteora
2. Greece names fifth privatization agency chief in four years
3. Ministry appeals to keep limit on prescriptions
4. Great margin for growth in exports
5. Universities aghast at new schools opening
6. Greece to hold next talks with troika in Paris, not Athens
more news
Today
This Week
1. Greece names fifth privatization agency chief in four years
2. Archaeological council bans international climbers' gathering at Meteora
3. Defense Minister Avramopoulos to represent Greece at European Commission
4. Tree collapses in village square, killing nine-year-old boy
5. Euro inflation seen testing ECB patience as stimulus takes time
6. Minister mulls fixing food and drink prices at non-private beaches
Today
This Week
1. Climber dies in Mount Olympus fall
2. Unequal after death
3. Greek sovereign debt at 174.1 percent of GDP in first quarter
4. Hedge fund Dromeus turns Greek tragedy to triumph with 160 pct gain
5. Quadriplegic woman on life support 'dies due to unpaid power bills'
6. Front-line threats
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.