Greek school teachers to work two more hours a week to reduce new hires

Greece is going to make its school teachers work an extra two hours every week from September in order to cut down on substitute educators and save money, it emerged on Thursday.

According to the Education Ministry’s plans, making school staff teach an extra two hours a week will mean that 80 percent fewer substitute teachers have to be hired. Last year, the government hired 6,500 part-time educators to make up for shortfalls at many schools. It is thought that fewer than 2,000 will be hired for the next academic year.

It has been reported that the change could save tens of millions of euros, with some 50 million euros less being spent in secondary education, but no official figure has been released on the savings yet.

Teachers on the job for less than six years will have to teach for 23 hours each week. Those with between six and 12 years experience will spend 21 hours a week with pupils. Educators who have been working for more than 12 years will have 20 hours of class time each week.

The extension will also apply to teachers at private schools. The only difference will be that they will have the option of declining to work the two extra hours each week, which will grant their employer the right to reduce their wages accordingly.

As part of its cost-cutting efforts, the Education Ministry is also planning the merger of elementary schools. This may lead the government to change the current legislation, which limits the size of classes at elementary schools to 25 pupils.

There has been no official reaction from teaching unions to the Education Ministry’s plans.