The new school year begins with two major challenges

The academic year starts with some improvements, many wishes and assurances, a few experiments and some chronic problems. September 11, 2006 will find new teachers and new books in place, but teachers at primary and secondary schools say they have not been trained to use the new textbooks, while this year the method of teaching the curriculum will change. This is not the only problem. Some schools in the provinces and in the cities (17 percent of schools in Athens and 12.7 percent of schools in Thessaloniki) still work double shifts. Moreover, many schools are housed in old buildings with small playgrounds that foster accidents (more than 50,000 injuries are reported every year at Greek schools). Most important, some 500 schools, chiefly primary and nursery schools, were constructed almost exclusively with asbestos, but no action has yet been taken to remove it and most of them will start work tomorrow as usual. The encouraging thing is that, as of this year, the policing of areas around schools will be better organized and measures to ensure the safe transport of pupils will be boosted. More questions hang over the new vocational senior high schools that are being inaugurated this year as technical senior high schools (TEE) are phased out.