NEWS

Greeks spend billion euros a year to pay for extra classes at private tuition colleges

Greek parents spend more than 1 billion euros a year on private tuition colleges and one-on-one lessons for their children in a country where the education system is supposed to be free. That amount divides into 606 million euros for secondary school coaching colleges and 461 million euros for foreign language tuition. Most of that sum, 433 million euros, goes to private lessons for secondary school pupils, according to 2005 data from the Greek Federation of Private Educators (OIELA). The statistics are based on the number of pupils at each coaching college. There are 2,914 secondary school level coaching colleges and 8,402 foreign language coaching colleges in Greece. The drain on family finances does not end there. University and public service entrance exams require coaching during tertiary education and beyond. «Typically, of 60,000 candidates for the Supreme Council for Personnel Selection (ASEP) exams, 5,900 go to coaching colleges,» State Senior High School Teachers Federation (OLME) president Dimitris Georgas told Kathimerini. And 30 coaching colleges (19 in Athens and 11 in Thessaloniki) cater to students in tertiary education. Despite the extra hours Greek pupils put in at school and with private coaching, their performance is far from impressive. Four out of 10 secondary school pupils go on to technical senior high schools and the remaining six go to consolidated senior high schools. Of that six, only three pass their end-of-year exams. Of those three, two get mediocre grades (10-15) and only one gets 15-20. «The problem is in the educational process,» coaching college owner Manolis Amaryiannakis said. Enrollments in coaching colleges for secondary school students seem to have risen this year (though there are no official figures yet). The increase is apparent among pupils in the third (and final) year of senior high, who feel insecure about the new passing grade of 10. More second-year pupils are attending coaching colleges, even though exams have been abolished at that level. «Pupils in the second year of senior high seem to be going back to coaching colleges because the third year has become more difficult. They prefer to put the pressure on earlier, in second year, so as not to have cover so much ground at the end,» explained Amaryiannakis.