Education bill on display

The much-awaited and hotly debated draft law on education reform will be made public by the government today in a bid to defuse the fierce tension over changes to universities, sources said. By unveiling the law, the Education Ministry hopes to start a discussion with university students and teaching staff who have been demanding specifics on the proposed legislation. Education Minister Marietta Giannakou will again try to appear more sensitive to the concerns of students and lecturers after she was accused of intending to rush the bill through a summer session of Parliament to prevent full debate. Giannakou said on Monday that she is willing to discuss the reforms with her detractors, despite the considerable chasm between the government and its critics on the education issue. The secretary of the Hellenic Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (POSDEP), Yiannis Maistras, told Kathimerini that academics will insist on an increase in funding. Maistras said that POSDEP wants the government to gradually increase its spending on education from 3.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to 5 percent. POSDEP also wants funding for universities to increase by 20 percent each year, Maistras added. Some lecturers and students have voiced concerns that funds for state universities will dry up if the government allows private universities to operate. POSDEP is due to meet on Saturday to discuss the details of the draft law. Meanwhile, students appear less conciliatory. They want the government to withdraw the bill. «We will not negotiate. The bill does not have mistakes which need to be corrected, it is a bill that has been wrongly conceived and we are asking that it be withdrawn,» a member of the student coordinating committee, Dimitris Grapsas, told Kathimerini. The student body is due to meet tomorrow to discuss the bill and has also planned a series of demonstrations for June 27 and 28, when education ministers from member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will meet in Athens.

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