The government and the main opposition on Tuesday continued their clash over the education bill, which, notably, provides for the introduction of a police corps into universities.
Wednesday’s final vote on the bill will coincide with a protest staged by teachers’ associations of all education levels, as well as university students’ and parents’ associations.
The protesters object not only to the presence of a police force, which will be directly under the orders of the Hellenic Police and not considered university employees, but also to plans to require a passing grade in nationwide end-of-school examinations in order for students to enter a university, put limits on the number of years university students can complete their degrees in and reintroduce assessment of schoolteachers after nearly 40 years.
SYRIZA lawmaker and former minister Panos Skourletis demanded Tuesday that debate on the bill stop because of the likelihood of tougher lockdown measures. This was a few hours before the measures were actually announced.
“We cannot debate for two or three days a bill that is certain to draw protests and clashes [with police] because of… the government’s obsessions. This [debate] must be frozen. There is no need to test society’s limits,” Skourletis said.
The ruling lawmakers responded that Parliament cannot be locked down and the debate continued.
All left-wing opposition parties contended that introducing a police force for universities is unconstitutional, a position rejected by the ruling conservatives.
Wednesday’s protest, which will be staged outside the old University building in central Athens, will demand the withdrawal of the bill.
“Those anti-educational laws and measures will only stay on paper. We cannot and we will not back down,” declared elementary school teachers’ union DOE.