In a few days, schools will open and, once again, some of them will function on a two-shift basis (morning and afternoon courses), causing serious problems for pupils and parents alike. According to responsible officials in the Education Ministry, Attica is facing the greatest problem, although large provincial urban centers like Thessaloniki, Iraklion, Hania, Larissa and Volos are also short of classrooms. Despite the fact that the problem has been effectively tackled in the majority of Attica’s municipalities, the region needs 3,955 new classrooms. The problem is more acute in the most densely populated and socially sensitive municipalities, such as those of Athens, Piraeus, Peristeri, Korydallos, Kallithea and Zografou. The education ministry has set 2004 as a time limit for ending the current two-shift system. These estimations are based on the fact that some 1,602 new classrooms are now being built, while there are plans to construct another 1,445. No doubt the present system is causing serious problems for pupils and their parents. In many cases, family life is disrupted. This applies particularly to families whose children attend primary schools which function on a two-shift status. Furthermore, if we take into consideration that the two-shift system is usually implemented in lower-class areas, then the problems that these parents have to deal with are unsurmountable, as their jobs cannot simply be switched from a morning to an afternoon slot. Despite the fact that responsible officials claim that the program for providing the requisite number of classrooms will be completed by 2004, there are deep reservations about many of the more sensitive areas, such as the Zografou Municipality, where prospects are rather dim because of the lack of space. The Education Ministry is invoking the fact that the necessary expropriation procedures for the construction of school buildings are time consuming. This, of course, is no adequate excuse and causes indignation, as it is related to the crucial issue of education. When the government implements extraordinary legislative measures to speed up the construction of admittedly single-use, Olympics-related projects, then the government’s reluctance to display similar vigilance on education and social issues inevitably causes rightful indignation.

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