Thursday April 17, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
15o C
11o 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)  
City of Piraeus undergoes transportation transformation
The real deputies of the Greek Parliament
Pilio-based tourism professionals launch online campaign for year-round direct flights from UK to Volos
Copy business with a difference
FILM
Drawing Greek animators together
“Talking about Greek animation abroad 20 years ago, people would have just laughed. Now we are making an effort to open up.” Greek director, concept artist and screenwriter Angelos Rouvas re...
Only in Athens: A new design concept for souvenirs
As tourism to Athens finally appears to be picking up after several years, it is becoming all the more apparent how backward the Greek capital is in selling itself. And, no, I don’t mean in ...
Inside Life
Inside Travel
Inside Gastronomy
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Lafazanis denies speculation of rift within SYRIZA party
2. Greek current account deficit widens in February
3. National Bank of Greece plans senior unsecured bond sale
4. Yield on first post-default Greek bond falls to issuance level
5. Homemade bomb targets car of deputy Parliament speaker´s wife
6. Wearing crowns of thorns, cleaning ladies hold protest at Finance Ministry
more news
Today
This Week
1. Ground-breaking Good Friday mass signals thaw in Cyprus
2. Greece startup leaders say they can’t break jobless cycle alone
3. Seven arrested over Toumba violence
4. Mayoral candidates clash over Athens mosque plans
5. Wearing crowns of thorns, cleaning ladies hold protest at Finance Ministry
6. Homemade bomb targets car of deputy Parliament speaker's wife
Today
This Week
1. Bomb explodes outside Bank of Greece
2. Time to take a hard look at debt sustainability, says OECD chief
3. For faith and country
4. CCTV footage from Nigrita Prison shows signs of inmate torture [Video]
5. Car bomb explodes outside Greek Central Bank building, no one hurt [Update]
6. Samaras sees no need for third bailout
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.