The new Ministry of Education bill passed in Greek Parliament on Wednesday evening with the votes of SYRIZA and Independent Greeks MPs, amid reactions from opposition parties.
New Democracy and Golden Dawn lawmakers voted against the bill, while the Greek Communist Party, Democratic Coalition, To Potami and Centrists Union voted “present.”
According to Education Minister Nikos Filis, the amendments will improve public education and make Greek education “more democratic.” At the same time, he said, it safeguards the rights of private school teachers.
Critics of the new bill argue that it lowers educational standards, abolishes the independent University Councils, allows the state to interfere with private schools’ operation, annuls beneficial reforms made in the past and brings back “eternal students.”
The amendment on private education has the state monitoring the curriculum and labor relations in private schools. The specific article has been backed by the Federation of Private School Teachers (OIELE) as a way to protect their jobs.
However, the Association of Private Schools (SIS) disagree, arguing that it prevents teacher evaluation and lowers standards. They accuse the minister of trying to bring private education to the level of public education that is seriously lacking, and then eradicate private education altogether, as he declared in his pre-election rhetoric.
The amendment on university and technical college attendance brings back “eternal students” to higher education institutions. It forbids higher learning institutions from expelling students from further attendance if they fail to register for two consecutive semesters. The new bill annuls a 2011 article that calls for expulsion of students who fall in that category.