Schoolchildren starved of free time

Children in the city center live at a much faster pace than their counterparts in the suburbs or the provinces, according to a survey carried out by the National Center for Social Research over the last academic year at 102 schools in the city of Athens. Very few have playing fields at their schools or in their neighborhoods. While the school premises have improved, they are still lacking in facilities. About 80 percent of pupils complain about noise levels. Most, however, have adapted to conditions. The majority (84 percent of primary and 76 percent of high school pupils) say they have foreign friends and most teachers said that the presence of foreign pupils did not affect teaching standards. On the other hand, 70 percent complain of not having enough free time, and they feel the city is not devoid of risks. Four in 10 children say they are afraid of going out at night and one in 10 say they have been approached by drug pushers. «The city should do something quickly about infrastructure and building maintenance. But that isn’t all. Many children have problems. They and their parents need support,» said Athens Deputy Mayor for Schools Ira Ralli-Valsamaki.