Double shifts a problem

Hundreds of Greek schools work double shifts. The problem is worst in Athens and Thessaloniki. In the city of Athens, where 46 school complexes serve 67,100 pupils, double shifts and shared premises are a major problem. Around 80 schools in the city center (17.2 percent of the total) work shifts, despite mergers made possible by shrinking student numbers. The difficulty is in finding plots of land large enough for new schools in the crowded and expensive capital. Red tape and expediency have hindered efforts. Once land is found, the municipality, prefecture and Public Works Ministry must collaborate to get a government decree to auction the property through the School Buildings Organization. But Chronis Akritidis, deputy mayor of technical services for the City of Athens, told Kathimerini that decrees have been issued for only 19 of the 68 plots of land that have been found.» In Thessaloniki, 140 of the 1,135 primary and secondary schools work double shifts, 84 of them in Thessaloniki Municipality. «At least 23 new schools will open now in the prefecture and another 10 by December. That reduces double shifts from 37 percent to 12.33 percent throughout the prefecture,» said an official from Thessaloniki Prefecture, which plans to put an end to double shifts within two years.