Santa to deliver school books?

Greek schoolchildren will not have any textbooks when they return to class in September due to serious delays in printing procedures, sources have told Kathimerini. An estimated 15,000 tons of paper required to print the books – at a cost of between 6.5 and 8 million euros – has not yet even been acquired, according to the sources, who blamed Development Ministry officials for dragging their feet in the procurement process, usually handled by the Education Ministry. The reason for the shift in responsibilities was unclear. By this time last year, at least 70 percent of the 40 million volumes required to equip the country’s state schools had already been printed. Generally, at least five months are required for the printing process to be completed before the books are distributed to around 1,600 schools in Greece and 600 in Cyprus. In view of this year’s delays, schoolchildren are unlikely to have their books before December, sources said. To speed up the process, the Education Ministry and the School Textbooks Publishing Organization have issued a joint appeal for the urgent procurement of 3,000 tons of paper. In this way, they hope to get some of the necessary books printed within the next three months so they can reach the pupils’ desks by September 12 when the new academic year begins. However, at least another 12,000 tons of paper are needed to print the rest of the books and, as yet, no contracts have been signed for any procurements.