The sensitive and much-afflicted field of education is again in turmoil as the vagueness of responsible officials has created a yawning wound in technical infrastructure, staff and books that has exhausted the patience of people who have to suffer the consequences. Reactions are escalating. The parents’ association, primary and nursery school unions, secondary school unions and students’ representatives are staging a protest tomorrow in Thessaloniki. The support by the city’s labor center and the prefecture’s 20 municipalities give the mobilization the character of a mass demonstration. In Attica, the teachers’ federation (OLME) and Greece’s primary school teachers union (DOE) have organized, along with Attica’s parents’ union, a three-hour strike in Attica tomorrow and a protest outside the Education Ministry. On Sunday, there will be a meeting between students’ parents’ representatives from all over the country that will try to meet with the Education Minister. This turmoil is not without foundation. According to data released by OLME, about 3,500 posts in secondary education remain vacant and, according to DOE’s chairman, about 1,000 in primary education. Hence, although we are already two months into the school year, 10 to 15 days have already been lost which cannot be made up. This loss is magnified due to a book shortage. These deficiencies are more acute in technical high schools (TEEs), which in Thessaloniki lack one third of the needed books. The dire picture is completed with the vexing issue of school accommodation. Only two out of 20 TEEs in Thessaloniki function on a morning shift because of a classroom shortage, while prefabricated houses since the 1978 earthquake are still in use. The government should realize that such problems can neither be tackled with remarks attributing the lack of books to the abundance of new titles, as the general secretary of the Education Ministry said yesterday, nor with references to the six-year program for the construction of new school buildings in Thessaloniki, as by then primary school pupils will be university students. When the government boasts of its reformist achievements, it should be aware that modernization cannot be imposed, nor does it come from the top. It is rather founded on education, a field where the modernist-minded PASOK has only displayed inconsistent experiments, endless oscillation and unacceptable stagnation.

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