Compulsory schooling to be extended to 12 years; teacher training also to be expanded
Compulsory education will be extended to 12 years, is that right? Of course, it’s in our program and it’s in the programs of other parties, such as PASOK, and I don’t think we’ll have any problem agreeing. Are there plans to change the curricula and books in primary and secondary schools? Indeed, the previous administration had planned for new books. Hundreds of new titles have been approved, and writing has started on some of them. The books are not ready for introduction into the school year 2004-2005. The Pedagogical Institute will examine these books, based neither on narrow criteria, nor on anti-scientific approaches. That the books had to be changed is beyond dispute. They no longer meet today’s needs, everyone can see that. The past few years have seen the development of the all-day primary school, but there have been many complaints that the schools were just keeping the children, rather than giving them something useful to do in the extra hours. Will the institution continue in the same form? It will be expanded. But it has to be expanded qualitatively, because of the all-day schools, only a small number, 28, are really all-day schools in the sense that lessons continue till the schools let out. In other schools, there are various activities from midday and afterward, if I can call them that. New technologies are being introduced into compulsory education very slowly. Educational software is user-unfriendly, resulting in a significant waste of funds. About 79,000 computers have been bought. As New Democracy, we have promised 150,000 computers to the schools. Also, 49,000 teachers have supposedly received teacher training, some of whom teach information technology. At present, we are trying to evaluate to what extent the training is bearing fruit. Having computers at a school for the sake of saying you have computers, I think, is meaningless. Continuous training is needed, and that’s what we need to take care of. To what extent the system has worked is something that we will evaluate. We don’t function on the mentality of absorbing funds. The ministry is not likely to lose money, but neither is it going to fling cash here and there just in order to absorb funds. Every year, there is a shortage of teachers in schools. How will you deal with this? This year, we will go through with the hirings that have been scheduled, around 7,100, 75 percent of whom will be drawn from those that have passed the (state service) ASEP exams, and 25 percent from the list of supply teachers. For the school year 2005-2006, the percentages will be 60-40. Thereafter, we will have to see what the real gaps are. We need to see how many people are really needed. The question is not how many hours one works, it is the kind of work that is done in that time. There are views that staff shortages are artificially created so that more people are hired. There might be such views. But proper teaching, as well as that there should not be changes in teachers during the school year, are issues where the provisions of the law will apply. There will be no exceptions. I don’t know what exceptions could have been made in the past, but as I said before, the teaching community must help. Will there be changes to the ASEP examinations? We have been informed by ASEP that some glitches have been observed and we will discuss these. How will teacher training programs be expanded? We believe that teachers should not just be trained in computers, as was the case today, but in all specializations.