School year lengthened to compensate for boycott;Briefing International

5th March 1999 at 00:00
GREECE

The government has announced drastic measures to extend the school timetable and the academic year to recover teaching time lost in the two-month student protest over its education reforms.

Teachers' unions have already criticised the arrangements but it is not yet clear whether they will instruct members to boycott them.

The dispute between the secondary students and the Greek government led to the occupation of half the country's secondary schools and nationwide protests.

The students went back to their classrooms in late February promising to stage another round of protests later in the year, probably just before the exams. Meanwhile, the teachers, who also won nothing from the government, are now having to implement a policy which they oppose and which has been rendered practically inoperable.

The reforms included allowing students only one chance to qualify for a place at university and new methods of appointment and assessment for teachers.

The education secretary Gerasimos Arsenis survived a vote of no confidence and weathered the storm, but public confidence in the educational reforms has been shaken substantially.

To recover lost time, the ministry is proposing to extend the school year by 10 days to June 10, shorten the Easter holiday by six days, extend the daily programme by an hour, and provide additional lessons on Saturday mornings and on days allocated for school trips.

End-of-year school exams and university-entrance examinations will have to be rescheduled and the summer holidays will be substantially shortened. Students in private schools and those state schools which did not participate in sit-ins, will finish the year normally but will have to wait for the end of the extended school year before sitting the exams.

Students are flocking to crammer schools, whose turnover has increased four-fold since the start of the school year last September - despite Mr Arsenis's intention in his reforms to obviate the need to attend crammers with the introduction of remedial tuition.

Makki Marseilles

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