Call for support on education

Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis yesterday called on opposition parties to support government reform efforts as hundreds of secondary schools remain closed due to student sit-in protest action. All the political forces must take positions in parliament with responsibility and objectivity, he told reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. The government is preparing to table before Parliament amendments to the Constitution that will enable it to recognize the diplomas of private colleges, according to sources. The ruling conservatives, however, will be looking for support to vote in the controversial changes as it holds a slim two-seat majority in the 300-seat Parliament. Tertiary students are among those opposing the plan to recognize the degrees of students graduating from private colleges. 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 the current academic year and will require private colleges to be certified by the foreign university with which they cooperate. Meanwhile, Stylianidis said that the number of secondary schools that have been shut down due to protesting students stands at around 250. Last week, data from the Education Ministry showed students from 350 schools had locked school gates demanding that the government increase spending on education to 5 percent of gross domestic product from the current 3.1 percent and improve building facilities. Our target is to cover all building needs with updated facilities by the year 2012, added the minister.