Many primary and high schools across the country will be merged, although mayors, parents and pupils do not support the government plans for introducing the Kalikratis program in education. But the Ministry of Education has decided to merge hundreds of schools especially in the areas of Thessaloniki, Trikala, Epirus, the Peloponnese and Crete from the next school year.
The Deputy Minister of Education Evi Hristofilopoulou has sent letters to mayors across the country to inform them of the intentions of the Ministry and to ask their opinion. In turn, mayors have made it clear that the merger of schools would be disastrous. Contrary to the decision of the Ministry they believe that in many cases schools are needed to be built to meet the needs in some areas.
Parents and pupils support the view that school mergers will increase the number of students in classes and in many cases the children will have to travel long distances to get to school. The Ministry assures that the schools will be examined individually depending on the region where they are located so that pupils will not be required to travel long distances. In addition, the merger program will not apply to mountain areas and islands, where the conditions are difficult due to bad weather in winter and inadequate road networks, reports Vima.
According to the mayors, there is a problem with finances because municipalities have covered the costs associated with the movement of pupils and they will increase, reads an article in Ethnos newspaper. On the other hand, there are some teachers who believe that the decision of the Ministry has its positive sides. But they also think that this is done only to save costs through school mergers and reducing the number of teachers, not because of concern for better education.
The Mayor of Kifisya Nikos Hiotakis told Ethnos newspaper that it would not be possible to resort to a merger of schools if the increase in population in his region in recent years was taken into account. "The people from different villages are worried that if schools are merged, there will remain no population in their villages. Large schools can not be open in big cities because they would lack individuality and would be beyond any educational logic."
Meanwhile, the statistical data of the research institute at the GSEE for the 2008-2009 school year was announced. According to it, 'free education' in Greece is worth 14.7 billion euros, reports Imerisia. Families have spent the huge amount of 5.1 billion euros in 2008 for various educational purposes like fees for private schools, alliances, sports, private lessons. If the domestic and European resources allocated to education are added to this amount then the total costs would be 14,7 billion euros or 6.15% of GDP. The families have spent the largest amounts (35% of costs) for music lessons, extra-curricular sports, dance schools, but also to pay for the education of their children at universities in the country and abroad.
According to the GSEE study, the best pupils are in Chios, Larissa, Trikala, Karditsa and Arcadia area. The worst-performing are the students from Corfu, western Attica, Zakynthos, but also from Rodopi and Xanthi, Cyclades Islands, Lefkas, the city of Iraklion in Crete and the Halkidiki. One of the scientists’ explanations is that the parents from some well-developed tourist islands are sure that their children will continue the family business in tourism and therefore do not encourage them enough to educate.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Education will adopt a new curriculum which is believed to improve education. The new curriculum prepared will be piloted in 160 schools in September, says Klimis Navridis - the chairman of the Pedagogical Institute - for Proto Theme newspaper. According to him, the final draft with corrections made to the new curriculum will be ready in April and will be presented to Minister Anna Diandopoulou.
The aim is to introduce students to research ways of thinking and proceeding so as to learn to formulate questions, identify problems, plan and determine methods of research, and analyze data. By understanding the basic concepts in a science and knowledge of events, pupils will learn to recognize important characteristics and to link a concept or idea with similar ones. The idea of the new curriculum is to train pupils to cooperate and to learn to communicate and share thoughts, ideas and feelings.
The president of the Pedagogical Institute said that the goal was children to be literate in Greek, to know foreign languages, to read and write in the sciences, mathematics, new technologies, culture, art and religion after completing their compulsory education. Mr. Navridis noted that curriculums in other countries such as Finland, Australia, Cyprus, France and Scotland were studied to make up the Greek one.