Back to school for ministry officials

It’s back to school today for teachers who will be opening the doors to their pupils in 10 days’ time. Along with this annual rite, we are once again witnessing the recurrence of an organizational chaos which borders on the farcical but has become almost an institution. First, tens of thousands of teachers and professors have not been notified about which school they have to appear at, as there has been no announcement of which teachers are being transferred, nor which ones are receiving permanent tenure or the appointments of replacements and temporary tenures. Second, according to even the most optimistic estimates, schools will not have received the new textbooks by the end of October. Dozens of school textbooks, which are essential from the very first day in the academic year on September 12, will not be in the hands of the pupils after two months in the new academic year. These unforgivable delays are exclusively the result of the organizational deficit and incompetence plaguing the Ministry of Education. Political responsibility lies above all with conservative Education Minister Marietta Giannakou. We should not have to wait until September to discover the shortages in academic staff and supplies. Understaffing problems are already evident from the previous academic year. Education Ministry officials should have taken all the necessary steps to merge or terminate schools and departments – and set up new ones where necessary – so that staff appointments can be announced and completed before the end of the summer lull. It is unacceptable that the education of hundreds of thousands of pupils depends either on the successful outcome of skirmishes among ministry officials who are involved in the publication of school texts or on the professional consistency of whatever printer or binder that has undertaken to carry out state orders of school books. The ministry could issue a decision whereby books that have not been delivered by springtime will not be included in the curriculum of the new academic year but of the next one, so that publishers can have plenty of time to prepare the material through the summer. That is, unless the political leadership and the whole apparatus inside the Education Ministry have decided to imitate the pupils’ three-month-summer-break mentality.