Protests show signs of easing

Secondary school sit-ins are continuing across Greece but the protest action appears to be losing steam, with some students deciding to go back to the classroom, according to the Education Ministry. Ministry data showed that about 350 schools across Greece continue to be shut down versus 500 last week. Students have locked up their schools demanding the government increase spending on education to 5 percent of gross domestic product from 3.1 percent currently. Students groups agreed on Sunday to continue their protest action until the end of the week, however, it is up to each school to decide on whether it will participate in the protest action. Education Ministry sources also said that signs of less vandalism taking place at schools indicate that this round of protect action may be dying down. The government is also facing opposition from tertiary students that oppose plans to recognize the professional rights of students graduating from private colleges, in line with European Union directives. In a bid to overcome objections to the measure, the government is planning to introduce controls over the country’s private colleges. A new law introducing stricter quality requirements is expected to be voted in by the end of this academic year and will require the private colleges to be certified by the foreign university with which they cooperate. Currently, private colleges are supervised by the Development Ministry, which essentially monitors only their business operations. There is no government body reviewing qualitative measures, such as the quality of courses. However, this task is expected to be assigned to the Education Ministry. Rectors called on the Education Ministry over the weekend to set up an inter-party committee to oversee changes to the education sector. Secondary and university students have planned a protest march in central Athens on Friday.