As Education Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos heralded the launch of a debate on the secondary education system next week, a deputy minister who is also the former dean of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) expressed serious criticism of the government’s reforms of the education sector. The debate is to begin at Zappeion Hall next Wednesday but without the participation of the State Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OLME), which has condemned the initiative as «a theater of the absurd,» accusing the government of «determining the conditions and the level of negotiations unilaterally.» Spiliotopoulos, for his part, told Athens 9.84 Radio that «all proposals are welcome in the debate, irrespective of their political origin, providing that they are useful.» Meanwhile, Deputy Environment and Public Works Minister Themistoklis Xanthopoulos claimed that the government’s reforms have caused the education system to go from «undernourished to anorexic.» In uncharacteristically outspoken comments, Xanthopoulos protested the «commercialization of degrees» and condemned successive governments for failing to recognize five-year courses at Greek technical colleges, including the respected NTUA, as postgraduate degrees. «It is really worth querying why the state has refused for the past 20 years to recognize certificates from technical colleges as master’s degrees,» he said. Xanthopoulos criticized the government’s approach in its education reforms. «We want to impose changes on education instead of doing the obvious, namely offering generous economic support for the upgrade of infrastructure,» he said. The deputy minister added that he understood «the frequent rebellion of young people,» noting that schoolchildren and university students feel trapped. Academics at Panteion University reportedly have expressed fears of trouble on Saturday when the university is to host a talk by Italian writer Alfredo Bonanno, a self-declared anarchist.