Despite the criticism fueled by a flurry of public sector appointments and handouts heralded by the Greek government in recent weeks ahead of next month’s early general election, Education Minister Costas Gavroglou Thursday sought approval for the appointment of thousands of new teachers over the next three years.
The move came a week after revelations of public sector transfers to Parliament, also involving the relatives of ruling SYRIZA MPs, forced Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to freeze further moves following an outcry by the political opposition.
The Education Ministry announced Thursday that it had submitted an appeal to the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, for an exemption from Greek laws prohibiting public sector appointments in a pre-election period.
The appeal concerns a total of 15,000 appointments over the next three-and-a-half years – 10,500 for standard school teachers from 2020-22 and another 4,500 for those specializing in teaching children with learning difficulties for 2019-20. The ministry wants the Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection (ASEP), which is responsible for public sector hirings, to be granted the right to proceed with appointments, despite the snap election.
Opposition parties have accused the leftist government of hypocrisy for announcing hirings while claiming to be above such old-school tactics. Some academics have also expressed exasperation. Ioannis Koumentos, former regional education chief for Attica, underlined the irony of the administration passing reforms that cut back on full-time teaching positions by reducing school hours and then announcing appointments. “Some 9,000 teachers jobs were lost. Now, before elections, they are promising appointments,” he told Kathimerini.
In another move apparently aimed at boosting SYRIZA’s popularity, Gavroglou signed a decision that extends the curriculum of several technical colleges (TEIs) including Crete’s, thus upgrading their status in line with a broader push by SYRIZA to merge TEIs with universities, an initiative that has been opposed by several higher education institutions.
A contentious education bill passed into law in April and ostensibly aimed at modernizing the higher education system was widely criticized for reverting to outdated teaching models and opening the back door to hirings.