NEWS

Research shows trials and tribulations of Greece’s teachers

Are they daydreamers dedicated to their profession, or are they insecure enough to seek a permanent position in the public sector only to quit the ideals of their profession when they achieve it? Or is it a combination of position, duty and love for children? In Greece the sector of public education employees today includes 69,234 permanent and 11,021 substitute high-school teachers, and 9,839 permanent and substitute elementary- school teachers. This year’s World Teachers Day, observed yesterday, provides an opportunity to expand the profile of the Greek teacher in public schools. According to a study of the demographic characteristics of high-school and elementary-school teachers by the National Center for Social Studies – conducted last year by researchers Laoura Maratou-Alibranti, Aphrodite Teperoglou and Ioanna Tsigkanou, with a sample of 997 people – a plurality of them (42.8 percent) belong to the age group between 40-49 years. The second largest group (39.4 percent) is between 31-39 years of age. One of the chief characteristics of Greek education, and also one of its great disadvantages, is that based on the appointment list it takes approximately 10 years from the day teachers graduate from university to receive their permanent appointment. According to the Center of Educational Research’s Manolis Koutouzis, the average age at which teachers are appointed (based on the list) is 35 to 37 years. But Koutouzis told Kathimerini that under the new hiring system – under which prospective teachers have to pass state exams upon receiving their college degree – the average age of appointment is nearly 30. Up to 85 percent of Greek teachers are married, while women make up the majority of elementary-school teachers and men predominate among high-school teachers. The majority of Greek teachers (52.9 percent) adopt the traditional model of a four-member family.The problems facing public school teachers derive mainly from the central planning of educational policies. The findings show that 77.2 percent believe the basic problem of education is its ill-defined objectives. This is confirmed by the fact that a large percentage (77.5) think the lack of updated teaching manuals is a hurdle in the development of Greek schools. The problem with today’s teacher – and especially in rural Greece – is that after his appointment he is cut off from knowledge and scientific developments. And this happens because the advisory institutions are not functioning, said Babis Liakopoulos, member of a public teachers’ union. Teachers: Give us a raise or we strike The new school year began inauspiciously, with shortages of both staff and textbooks. According to the School Teachers’ Federation (OLME), staff shortages of technical specialty teachers for technical high schools amount to a total of 3,500 positions. Indicative of the situation are reports of shortages in Aitolokarnania (320 positions); the Dodecanese (300); the Iraklion prefecture (270); Achaia (250); Evia and Elia (150 positions respectively); the Third Directorate of Athens (140); and Pellis prefecture (116). Moreover, in spite of the assurances by the State that it would distribute school textbooks on time, there are still shortages, mainly in books of physics and chemistry in high school, geometry books in freshman year high school, and biology texts in senior year classes. Finally, OLME is demanding a rise in salaries, and threatening strikes that will extend to 40 percent of the school year over a period of three years.