Confrontation over sit-ins


The tug of war between the conservative government and schoolteachers’ unions intensified Friday as the Education Ministry issued a circular mandating remote learning in cases where in-person classes have been upended by sit-in protests.

An estimated 130 schools are currently occupied by pupils across the country, with protesters pushing, among other demands, changes to university entry criteria and weekly Covid-19 testing requirements. The number of sit-ins could soon rise as the pupils’ self-styled “coordination committee” has called for protest rallies in Athens and other cities across the country on October 11.

The secondary school teachers’ union (OLME) has instructed its members to refrain from online teaching if their school is affected by a sit-in.

The circular, issued by the Education Ministry’s General Secretary Alexandros Koptsis, came in the wake of a ruling by a first instance court in Athens which declared as illegal a prolonged strike by OLME against the mandatory evaluation of teaching staff and school units. Performance assessment in education was a key pledge of the conservative administration.

OLME and DOE, which is the primary teachers’ federation, staged a rally in central Athens Friday protesting the prospect of mandatory evaluations, while calling for more hirings. 

They said that a month after the start of the academic year, many classes were still left without teaching staff.