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Greece: Report warns of emerging privatisation in public education

Today Education International (EI) affiliates in Greece launched a study revealing the growing trend towards privatisation in public education, following years of austerity and poor funding. The report marks the beginning of a regional strategy to fight privatisation and commercialisation in education in Southern Europe.

Commissioned and led by the Greek Primary Teachers’ Federation (DOE) and the Greek Federation of Secondary Education State School Teachers (OLME), the study is part of EI’s Global Response to the Privatisation and Commercialisation in and of Education.

Entitled "Public Education in Greece. Aspects and Trends of an Emerging Privatisation”, the study shows the major impact of austerity on public education in the country: the worrying growth of privatisation and shadow education, education staff shortages, the lack of infrastructure and, as a result, increasing public distrust of public education.

The study also highlights the need for immediate measures to address the issues identified and puts forward a set of recommendations, calling on the government to urgently boost funding for public education, increase teachers’ salaries, ensure professional development and support for education workers, and strengthen all public education structures and programmes that have been neglected for years.

The report was launched in Athens today, in the presence of Deputy Minister of Education, Sofia Zacharaki, education spokespersons from 3 opposition parties, trade union representatives and teachers. In a demonstration of solidarity, EI affiliates from Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Cyprus were represented at this very important initiative - the first step in a Global Response Southern Europe strategy. In addition to attending the research launch, they participated in a round table discussion aimed at further joint campaign development and planning.

During the launch event, DOE and OLME also presented their “Athens Declaration: For Public Education, Students, Teachers, Society” which lays out the unions' plan of action in defence of public education in Greece. The plan includes lobbying the government and all parties in Parliament to mobilise support for public education, calls for increased state funding, and various outreach activities to engage all stakeholders in the fight for quality public education.     

Introducing the Athens Declaration, Thanasis Kikinis, DOE President, said: “This study is the newest link in a long chain of actions in support of education as a public good. Working together with our colleagues in secondary education, we will use the findings to intensify and focus our efforts so that each and every student in Greece has access to the quality public education they deserve.”

Present at the launch, Angelo Gavrielatos, Director of EI’s Global Response to the Privatisation and Commercialisation in and of Education, stated: “EI congratulates DOE and OLME for their leadership in combatting privatisation. The independent research commissioned by DOE and OLME will provide the necessary analysis to further develop a strategic campaign in defence of public education. This is particularly important considering that investment as a percentage of GDP in public education in Greece is amongst the lowest in Europe. It is also timely given recent statements by the Minister promoting privatisation through Public Private Partnerships.”