An absence of teachers meant that 272 schools across the country, including on the remote islands of Kastellorizo, Telendo and Agathonisi, were unable to open for classes on Monday as the new school year began across the country.
“What can I say? I think that the mere fact the school does not have a teacher says all there is to say about the Education Ministry’s interest and preparedness,” Ioannis Kanellis, deputy mayor of Agathonisi, told Kathimerini on Monday.
According to official figures the number of shortages in primary education at the start of the school year comes to 14,500, above initial estimates of 14,000, while the total number including in secondary education comes to more than 21,000.
Vassilis Papayiannis, a unionist at the Ministry of Culture’s Central Council for Primary Education, said that the shortages in kindergartens, elementary schools and special education facilities are biggest in Iraklio on the island of Crete, in Western Attica and in Aitolokarnania.
The problem, according to the head of the Federation of Primary School Teachers, Thanasis Kikinis, stems from cost-cutting policies that have resulted in few new hirings. According to figures, 8,500 primary educators have retired in the past five years and only 850 new teachers have been hired, with none of these being in the past two years.
“The data do not do education any honors,” said Kikinis. “Putting off problems to the future has resulted in the downgrading of education.”