Greek Education on the Brink of Tragedy

sxoleioThe Greek education system has been hit hard by the economic crisis and is on the brink of a tragedy, according to a trade union report.

According to EurActiv, the report by the General Confederation of Labour in the area of Education and Lifelong learning (KANEP-GSEE), examined the state of the Greek primary and secondary education system in the 2002-2014 period.

“We are on the brink of an unprecedented education tragedy in recent decades,” the authors of the report warn, underlining that the issue is mainly “political.”

“The image of the Greek primary and secondary education, compared to the European mainstream, causes deep concerns for the future of younger generations and for the future of Greece itself.”

The report says that Athens was a champion in underfunding and inequalities in its education system, as well as a laggard in innovation and learning results at the European Union level.

The report stressed that actual expenses did not reflect the amount of money earmarked for education in the annual budget.

Eurostat, said that public expenditure on education accounted for 4.5% of GDP in 2013. However, it was just 3.2% of GDP, according to official statistics by the State General Accounting Office.

The underfunding, in combination with the “ineffective study programmes,” resulted in low educational performance. Greek students are among the worst performers in basic subjects (mathematics, language, natural sciences).

The report also found that during the crisis the number of NEETs (young people not in education, employment, or training) has increased “dangerously.”

According to European statistical authority, the rate of Greek NEETs reached 29.5% in 2014, the highest percentage in the EU, followed by Italy (27.4%). This is up from 17.5% in 2009, when the economic crisis hit Greece.

“We need to note out that although Greece does not have particularly high rates of school early leavers, it shows a rapid increase in the number of NEETs,” KANEP’s director, Christos Goulas, told EurActiv, adding that this increase is closely linked to the constantly rising youth unemployment rate.

Another conclusion of the report is the poor quality of infrastructure in lower secondary education. Directors of secondary schools noted that 21.0% of pupils aged 15 were faced with insufficient heating, cooling and lighting that affects the learning process.

The rate increases to 34.8% when it comes to shortages in learning spaces (classrooms, corridors, stairs, cleanliness, etc.) and to an extent hindered the smoothness in the learning process at school. It is indicative that due to austerity policies, no school has been built or renovated in the past six years, the EurActiv report concludes.