Finding money for education

Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos told the press yesterday that the first installment of the state benefit to primary and pre-school teachers will put an additional 54-million-euro strain on the 2007 budget. «Do you think that money is just peanuts for Greece’s taxpayers?» Roussopoulos asked. Considering the economy’s dismal state, the goverment cannot give away any money – not even that 54 million euros – without serious consideration. Nevertheless, two months ago the conservative administration went on to spend some 100 million euros to keep a troubled Thessaloniki pesticide factory afloat. The question is, how the government can come up with funds to subsidize a bankrupt industry and, at the same time, fail to find money to finance the country’s education system? The government was elected with a clear mandate to curb waste, which according to ruling party estimates hovers at 10 billion per year. This is not just graft and corruption. It’s also money going down the tubes. Instead of increasing state waste by doing something such as subsidizing inefficient industries, our political leaders should be more generous in covering the needs of Greek education, which they often say is the country’s future. Sure, the government does not have to meet the over-the-top demands of the teachers’ federation. But it could at least invest the same amount that went to the troubled pesticide company.