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Тeachers' union: The entry examinations for exemplary schools are social discrimination

02 April 2013 / 20:04:18  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

As many commentators say, "reform" is not among the most popular words in Greece. The situation in the educational sector is no different. Moreover, as we have seen over the past two years, its employees are ready to resort to particularly extreme strike actions to prevent any change.

After the adoption of the "Athens" plan to reform higher education despite the strong resistance against it, now it is the school trade unionists’ turn to resist. This time, the reason is the decision of the Ministry of Education to introduce entry examinations for exemplary - experimental secondary schools as well as exams at the end of the school year.

The Greek Federation of State School Teachers of Secondary Education OLME has immediately responded by condemning the decision and accusing the Ministry of overturning the plans of the pupils and their families with this decision.

"The imposition of an extreme form of distinction is an attempt to divide pupils who study in the same way. It can be defined as somewhat discriminatory as well, because it changes the school environment by imposing a two-hour examination of questionable quality, which has nothing to do with the nature and purpose of the public school."

GRReporter has contacted Angeliki Fatouoru, a board member of the Federation, who presents the arguments of the trade unionists and who is particularly firm as regards their correctness.

"Our opinion is that the pupils should be chosen by lot. Otherwise, the school will no longer be experimental. In fact, the Ministry wants to create schools for excellent pupils. We are completely against these plans.

Experimental schools should be what their name suggests. They should educate a randomly selected part of society and science should experiment on it rather than on the most excellent pupils among the best. There is no use for such experiments."

Angeliki Fatourou stresses that the Federation is completely against the existence of entrance examinations for secondary schools and states in support of her position that it is an unsuccessful practice globally.

"There should not be schools for excellent pupils. Our goal should be to make all schools excellent. Anyway, we think that the schools for excellent pupils are not successful anywhere in the world. We have evidence of the failure of such schools in Great Britain, the United States and in other countries too. There are data showing how a pupil who has entered a school for excellent pupils develops without the necessary cultural and economic support from his or her family."

Trade unionists resist against the intention of the Ministry to introduce a system of performance evaluation of teachers. In their opinion, the evaluation aims at facilitating and accelerating the potential layoffs and the quality of work will certainly not benefit from it.

"We are against it too. We think that this measure has nothing to do with the evaluation of our work. It is a strict hierarchical system to control the teachers; its aim is to justify the dismissals of teachers and their complete obedience to principals, inspectors and the Ministry. They want teachers with bowed heads, dependant public workers who agree with everything, without any pedagogical freedom.

The measure is by no means aimed at improving education. If it were so, they would not have reduced the budget for schools by 67%, which resulted in many of the schools being unable to pay for heating oil and forced them to reduce their staff so drastically. Two months before the end of the school year, secondary schools are still short of 1,600 teachers. Many subjects have been neglected or have never been taught at some schools.

Public schools are in a state of complete destruction. One of the objectives of the Troika’s policy and of the governments that are implementing it is precisely this: the destruction of public education and full commercialization of education and health," added the trade unionist.

Tags: SocietyExemplary experimental schoolsEntry examinationsTrade unionsTeachers
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