Dozens of schools around Greece will be unable to open or will have volunteer teachers ushering in the new school year on Friday, particularly in some remote parts of the country that have been left with no teachers.
Interim Education Minister Froso Kiaou is scrambling to make up for the shortfall in teachers for the country's schools, informing municipal authorities on Wednesday that funding through the European-Union backed structural fund package ESPA has been approved to hire 10,500 educators in the primary sector, as well as for the hiring of another 3,000 teachers from the state budget. Another 4,000 educators are expected to be taken on with funding from the Public Investment Program.
The problem is particularly acute in primary education as in the secondary sector it is easier for existing teachers from a larger variety of disciplines to cover gaps in lessons. Rural parts of the country are also facing a challenge, as a spate of retirements in the past few months over fears of more cutbacks in salaries and pensions has led to some schools not having a single teacher.
“In Iraklio in Crete, 16 elementary schools and 23 kindergartens will not be opening,” said Vassilis Papayiannis, a unionist elected to the Central Board of Primary Education.
The region of Laconia in the Peloponnese is also facing a challenging year, with educational authorities there openly inviting volunteer teachers to staff several schools in the area.