Start of term at schools to be problem-free: Minister

Tomorrow is the first day of school for 1,150,000 pupils at 8,977 primary, junior and senior high schools and 457 technical high schools (TEE) throughout Greece. Everything will be ready for them, Deputy Education Minister Nikos Gesoulis assured Kathimerini, because all the appointments, transfers and secondments were made well ahead of time. In previous years, shortages of staff and textbooks lasted until Christmas in some cases, prompting protests from parents and teachers. This week, the ministry is announcing the names of 5,000 temporary substitute teachers in secondary schools. Last Friday, 2,450 appointments to primary school were announced. Meanwhile, said Gesoulis, «97 percent of the textbooks are already at the schools, and the remaining 3 percent will have arrived by tomorrow. In every area, all the children will receive their school timetable on the day of the blessing, so as of Thursday they will have a full, six-hour school day. This is the best year. And we have to emphasize that by celebrating the opening of a school year without problems.» This year, there has been an attempt to reorganize the administrative structure of schools, with new staff in all posts, and new operating rules for schools will be implemented. According to Gesoulis, the key person in improving a school’s image is the principal, whose role had been devalued, giving state schools a bad image. «We are trying to upgrade the position of school principal, by appointing to that post teachers who have qualifications and are keen on their work,» says Gesoulis. «We hope the results will become apparent immediately in the way schools operate, which the parents themselves will realize.» As always in Greece, when appointments are concerned, there is some suspicion that they are being made on the basis of party-political affiliations. There have already been objections from representatives of the teachers’ federations. But the deputy minister insists: «The appointments were not made on the basis of such criteria. The few people who have complained know very well that the people were selected from all backgrounds on the basis of merit. So these complaints were made purely so that some people could justify their own role.» The final preparations are under way so that everything will be ready by tomorrow morning, especially for the 100,000 children who are starting school for the very first time. Their clothes were usually sewn with gold rosettes, ribbons, chains, buckles and clasps. On their heads were woven or leather ribbon diadems with gold rosettes. They had gold mouthpieces and wore silver or gold earrings, necklaces with beads of gold, amber or glass and a gold ring on the right hand.

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