As schools around Greece launch the new year on Friday with major staff shortages, Education Minister Froso Kiaou on Thursday assured that the caretaker government is “on the right path” to filling some of the gaps.
Schools open on Friday with an estimated shortfall of 6,500 full-time teachers in primary and secondary schools, more than twice that of 3,000 in the 2014-15 period.
Kiaou said that the ministry has secured funding to hire 19,000 auxiliary teachers who can be moved around to different temporary positions. The funding comes from the European Union and state coffers, she said, warning, however, that delays in disbursement will mean that schools will have to operate without them for the first few weeks.
Another problem is that limitations on how the EU funding can be used means that the money cannot go toward covering positions in mandatory subjects but only in electives, leaving major gaps in core subjects.
“The money is there for 7,000 [auxiliary] positions in the core program, but the shortfall comes to 13,500,” Kiaou admitted.
Efforts are also being made to transfer 2,600 fixed-contract educators from relatively well-staffed schools to those facing the biggest problems, as well as to bring in state-employed teachers working at Greek educational institutions abroad.
“In terms of what’s possible and given the country’s economic circumstances, we are on the right path,” Kiaou said.
Her statements came a day after unionists warned that there are dozens of schools around Greece, particularly in remote areas, that will be unable to open at all because they have no teaching staff. In Laconia, in fact, school authorities have been petitioning for volunteer teachers to take on some of the workload.
Greece’s public schools have around 1.5 million students and 137,000 teachers.