Greeks pay dearly for education

Families in Greece spend more money than in any other European Union country on private education, a Greek member of the European Parliament yesterday quoted EU Commissioner for Education and Culture Viviane Reding as saying. Opposition New Democracy MEP Stavros Xarhakos announced that, in response to a question he had tabled, Reding said that 2.4 percent of Greek family expenditure in 1999 went toward private lessons. This was nearly five times the EU average, which stands at 0.5 percent. Total annual expenditure on private education – including private tuition and crammers’ fees – reached 600 million euros in Greece. Greek families spend 13 times more on private education than Swedish, Finnish and Luxembourgian families do, while the corresponding figures for Spain, Portugal and Italy were 1.4, 1.3 and 0.8 percent. Xarhakos quoted Reding as saying that, between 1998 and 1999, Greek spending on private education soared from 1.6 to 2.4 percent of family expenditure.