Increasing competition for all-day schools

Despite the problems associated with any new enterprise, the institution of the all-day school has met with a warm reception from Greek families. As the school year is about to begin, thousands of parents are moving heaven and earth to secure one of the 300,000 places available in all-day nursery and primary schools for their children. The number of applications is already double the number of places available and the Education Ministry estimates that demand has risen 120 percent over last year. The reason is that all-day schools suit working parents because their children are kept occupied at school up till 4 p.m. This year there will be 800 new all-day state-sponsored schools (300 nursery and 500 primary schools), bringing the total number throughout Greece to 5,200 (2,100 nursery and 3,100 primary schools). In the last school year there were 4,400 schools with 210,000 places, compared with 50,000 places in 2001-2002. The expansion of this institution is creating new circumstances in state education, with four out of 10 pupils in primary education able to study at an all-day school this year. As of next school year, eight out of 10 primary schools in densely populated Attica will operate on an all-day basis, and the increase in the number of places has been significant in other parts of Greece, such as in Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia and Thessaly. Meanwhile, new teaching positions have opened up at all-day schools, fully absorbing available primary and nursery school teachers who had been unemployed or working in other jobs for years. Last year saw a shift of both teachers and pupils away from private schools to state schools. «This is the school of the future,» Deputy Education Minister Nikolaos Gesoulis told Kathimerini. «It was designed to meet high educational goals.»

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