University reforms put on ice

The government has pushed back until January the submission to Parliament of a draft bill introducing university reforms because it wants to avoid fanning tension in the sector, sources said. The bill, originally scheduled to have been brought before lawmakers last week, outlines the controversial recognition of private universities. Tension in the education sector has been high for more than a month due to preschool and primary school teachers who walked off the job for six weeks over a pay dispute. Teachers will open classrooms today but have announced two new 24-hour strikes, for November 3 and 9, as they vow to continue to push ahead with pay demands. «We do not want to make matters worse and will not take steps that could act as an excuse for new gatherings,» a government source told Sunday’s Kathimerini. The conservative government has insisted that it will not backtrack on education reforms, arguing that its policies are supported by the majority of voters. However, growing unrest in the sector appears to be testing the government’s determination to push through changes. Student sit-in protests at hundreds of secondary schools have been taking place in recent weeks as a means of forcing the government to drop a minimum grade requirement for university entry. University sector students are also expected to pick up their protest action in coming days by shutting down universities in the lead-up to November 17 celebrations. Meanwhile, on Saturday, protesting teachers, pupils and university students staged unscheduled demonstrations at student parades held to commemorate Greece’s entry into the Second World War. There were no reports of arrests.

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