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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Again some high schools were closed by students

What was said earlier about the police officer shooting directly at the crowd may be over turned. The investigation is still on-going and some source has suggested that the bullet might have been reflected from an object (such as the ground) before hitting the boy…as the Kathimerini newspaper reported contrary to previous day’s report…
“The results of the ballistics tests on the bullet that killed 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos and sparked the rioting were to be handed to an investigating magistrate late yesterday. Sources told Kathimerini that the results may support the claims of the accused officer that the bullet had ricocheted before hitting the boy.” and “At least 100 but possibly as many as 400 high schools have been shut down by pupils and it remains unclear if they will return to classes next week. University students are also holding sit-in protests at schools in Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras.”

In Greece, the public-funded schools often have student sit-in protests and therefore shut-down problems. The sit-in closure of schools starts at the γυμνάσιο (gymnasio is grade 7 to 9) age, sometimes I believe the students who don’t like to study may have closed down the schools so others who like to study have no choice but to stay homes, other times I wonder if some lazy teachers are behind the bad students? Still other times, the students do have some valid concerns such as the school's building materials are built from cancer-causing materials, and the students demand an immediate improvement of their school environment by sit-in protests. Because of the student-initiated sit-in closures coupled with the teacher-initiated strikes, these leave the number of actual school days in Greece to be very little compared to other countries. Also, the public-funded schools usually finish at 2pm (or 2:30pm?) daily, so the good students must do a lot of self studies at home or many students actually attend those evening φροντιστήριο (prounced fron-tis-TI-ri-o, meaning tutorial) schools. Although the Ministry of Education had asked the teachers who participated in strikes to make up their lost teaching time, there were never any measures to ensure and monitor that the teachers indeed made up their time. My children had 6 consecutive weeks of teacher strikes in the fall of 2006 in which neither teacher made up her lost time. Many children were victimized by the lost education time, and therefore lost learning opportunities. Other parents who both work were forced to hire temporary babysitters during teacher strikes or student sit-in closures when there were no other family member to support.

Generally speaking, I do not support strikes by teachers as a mean to resolve their labor disputes because in Greece the teachers enjoy the longest summer holidays (from mid-June to mid-September) in the world, besides many teachers work as home tutors in the afternoon at people’s homes without paying income tax on the money earned from private lessons. If the teachers think they are underpaid, the Ministry of Education must evaluate the situation, taking into account the total numbers of hours (not just days) worked compared to teachers of other countries.

Those who don't want to put their children's education at risk usually send their children to private schools, but that means extra family expense ranging from about 5,000 to 12,000 Euro per child per year depending on each private school's tuition fees. Many private schools have class size (up to 33 students) much bigger than the public schools (15 to 25 students), so the children may not receive the individual attention needed, therefore there is always pro and cons.

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