Only a few hundred teaching posts will remain empty when the new academic year starts on Monday, the government said yesterday, rather than the thousands of vacancies that had been predicted by teaching unions. Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou said the shortages at primary and secondary schools would not be as serious as was thought a few weeks ago. «We are here to responsibly inform citizens, 15,500 schools, 1.4 million pupils and their parents, as well as 160,000 teachers that the doom-mongers have been proved wrong,» she told journalists. «All those who wanted to score petty, party political points have seen their efforts dashed.» This represents a turnaround from August, when the government faced the double whammy of a larger-than-usual number of teachers (more than 11,000) retiring and a low number of new hires (just over 2,000) due to public spending cuts. Diamantopoulou indicated the Primary Teachers’ Federation (DOE) and the Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OLME) had exaggerated the problem, which has been tackled by the transfer of some personnel and the hiring of substitutes. «Last week, in the secondary sector there were 2,843 vacancies but there were also 4,277 unassigned staff members,» she said. «In primary education, we had 3,047 vacancies and we hired 2,554 substitute teachers. At nursery schools, we were short of 1,677 teachers and have hired 1,304 people.» DOE’s president, Dimitris Bratis, insisted that the true picture at Greek schools will not become clear until Monday, when the term starts. OLME believes that schools will be up to 3,000 teachers short.