A circular issued on Thursday by Education Minister Nikos Filis which, he says, aims to target undeclared labor and safeguard teacher jobs at private schools, has been met with vehement opposition, as critics say it will essentially lead to a ban on extracurricular activities available at private schools.
Activities that run the risk of being scrapped include theater, sports, clubs and a host of other projects after normal school hours.
The move has been lambasted by the Association of Private Schools, which is expected to mount a legal challenge against it, saying that by placing a limit on teachers’ weekly hours, as is stipulated in the circular, it gives state-run schools and other institutions offering extra activities an unfair advantage.
According to the circular, the number of working hours of teachers at private schools cannot exceed 23 or 24 hours a week, and this should not exceed 30 hours including extra activities, while pupils can attend school for up to 40 hours, including extra activities.
Critics, however, stress that the numbers simply don’t add up, given that teachers are not allowed to work more than 30 hours.
The contradiction was highlighted by the president of the Association of Private Schools, Haralambos Kyrailidis.
“The new law gives us the right to extend the timetable of pupils to 40 hours a week… but at the same time the same law says the timetable of teachers should not exceed 30 hours,” he told Kathimerini.
Private school owners are also up in arms over their relative inability to sack teachers who are not performing up to standard, as the new law states that sackings must receive the approval of a state-sponsored special council, which they claim will allow teachers to stay on board regardless of merit.