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Twice more university textbooks than needed with millions of euro losses for the country

19 December 2010 / 12:12:51  GRReporter
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Several decades continues, the "dance" of millions of euro spent on the purchase of textbooks by the Greek universities. Who cares that students who need them have been only 250,000 per year? All these years have been purchased textbooks for twice as much and the difference is volatilized in the pockets of sly people who lived on the back of the state universities without any control by their governments.

According to the minister of education Anna Diamantopoulou "there never was performed any control. Often were made massive procurements for textbooks, which were then cast away in storages. This have cost the country about 80-90 million per year”.

The issue with the textbooks is part of the diseased subject of the universities in Greece. "The biggest part of the financing for the universities always went for the cost of textbooks and we always wondered exactly where these funds were going" says a former functionary who served in the ministry during the government of New Democracy. The data shows that each year the ministry has paid increasingly large sums, while the number of the benefiting from those free assets has declined. Throughout the years it has erupted an incredible feast, which dispersed with the uncontrolled government funding to the universities in terms of absolute lack of transparency at the central level. At the same time students were forced to look for books at various places in the country.

"Nobody was dealing with this particular issue and up to the moment it did not provoked complaints and questions there was no desire to explore how things were," says the operator of the Registry in a major Greek universities. How was the scheme working? Teachers had offered their textbooks, which in many cases were at least 2-3, to the students. They of course have selected the books of the teachers and have sent requests to the secretariats of the faculties. From there a list with the names of the students who were eligible for free textbooks has been prepared and sent to the publishing houses.

And somewhere in that process the thread was interrupted. The students had to go to the bookstores of the publishers to sign that they have received the textbooks and get them. How many students were they? Two hundred thousand, three hundred thousand? "The Ministry has always paid for 500,000 books" say sources familiar with the facts. At the same time in some departments the teachers had the right to order the books on behalf of their students, and in this case there was not any control of their choice. Part of the puzzle are the teachers who have published their own textbooks.

The Ministry of Education said that this year for the first time the new system of distribution of free textbooks has "won its fair wages”. The newly introduced electronic system showed that the number of active students in Greece does not exceed 250,000. Already 31,699 books have been distributed to students from 488 universities and colleges. In this editorial, "Adventure" have participated 1,022 publishers, while 11,000 electronic books with free entrance were distributed. "This year, all students received their own personal numbers with which they went on the internet and ordered their books without any intervention by the secretariats of the faculties" said the ministry.

"The issue of textbooks was of fundamental importance to the ministry, so periodically were introduced changes in the legislation to amend the system for the distribution. The last one was introduced last year with the new law, which ensured the transparency of the system on the Internet. Furthermore, it was introduced the "multiple textbook" as well as the obligation that 10% of all textbooks should be supplied to the university library", said the former functionaries in the ministry.

According to many teachers the system for distribution of the free textbooks is paralogism of the Greek inspiration, as in other member states of the EU that dealt with the issue of university textbooks no longer engaged anyone. "Abroad, the state does not distribute textbooks. They attend university libraries, where are all the textbooks they need. Of course, there are libraries. We here do not have even rooms that are adapted for this purpose. How should be covered the needs of thousands of students?" the teachers said and emphasized that in the faculties which have libraries, the interested students are so much that often they form queues at the entrance.

Tags: Education Universities Textbooks Libraries
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