Teachers and students in Greece observed an education strike on June 9, Tuesday, and staged protests across the country denouncing a controversial education bill proposed by the conservative New Democracy (ND) government. Many people marched in Athens to the Greek parliament where the debate on the bill started on Tuesday. Voting on the bill is set to take place on Wednesday. The call for the mobilization on Tuesday was given by various Greek teachers unions, including the School Teachers Unions (ELME) and SEPE, various Students Coordination Committees, parents groups and the All Workers Militant Front (PAME), among others.
Educators in Greece have criticized the new education bill as likely to increase the number of exams at the secondary education level, eliminate general education and make it more competitive by focusing even more on exams for accessing higher education. The bill will force young teachers to work far from their families under harsh conditions with low wages. If they deny the positions offered to them, they are to be excluded from the system for two years. The bill also intensifies the privatization of university departments and complicates the transfer process.
902.gr reported that mobilizations were also organized in Volos, Grevena, Ikaria, Kalamata, Kalymnos, Kefalonia, Corfu, Kozani, Kos, Larissa, Lemnos, Leros, Ptolemaida, Preveza and Trikala. More protests are scheduled for June 10 in Thessaloniki and Lamia. A rally is planned in Chios on June 11.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) has expressed its opposition to the bill and stated that the party MPs will vote against it in the parliament.
KKE MP Manolis Syntychakis said, “All governments have taken off the public education cloak to fully adapt the school to the market economy and to capital preferences for maximum profit each time with a cheap flexible workforce without rights. This new bill targeting skills instead of the all-round education of children also serves this purpose.”
“They want children to know only writing, reading, foreign language, computer skills and a little bit of everything, to learn to live life to meet the needs of capital,” he added.
Teachers and students had organized a nationwide protest against the bill earlier on May 19. Greek minister for education Niki Kerameus had presented the bill for public consultation on April 23 and amendments were finalized by May 20.