Parents spend over 5 bln euros on education

Greek families spend more than 5 billion euros a year on educating their children despite the fact that most children go to public schools and all universities are free, according the results of a study presented on Wednesday.

The research, carried out by experts working for the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), the country?s main private labor union, found that 2 billion euros was spent each year on private tuition schools, language and music lessons, sports and other activities. Another 3.2 billion euros was spent private schools, living expenses for university students and fees for postgraduate studies.

?Shadow education is a symptom of the weakness of our education system and it puts extra pressure on Greek parents who are trying to overcome difficulties by offering their children the best possible future,? the head of the research team, Nikos Paizis, told Kathimerini.

The study found that parents dig particularly deep when their children reach secondary school. Whereas they pay a total of 775 million euros for primary school education, 2 billion is spent on children once they are in high school. Of this, almost 1.5 billion euros goes on what is termed ?shadow education,? which includes cramming schools, language classes and private music lessons.

Parents also face a sizable bill once their children reach university. At that stage, about 1.5 billion euros is spent from family budgets on rent and other living expenses, so high school graduates can enter tertiary education. Another 400 million euros is spent on textbooks and writing material.

The research is based on data relating to 2008 and it is not yet clear what impact the economic crisis in Greece has had on the amounts that parents are able or willing to spend on their children?s education.