Sit-ins backfire on fellow students

January 2, 1998

Thousands of Greek university students face losing a semester because of occupations by militants protesting at education ministry legislation.

The semester will be lost because the rules demand tuition must be carried for at least 11 of the 13 weeks of a semester. The student action, suspended over the Christmas and New Year holidays, will continue when term begins next week.

Philosophy students are strongly opposed to the legislation, which includes optional study cycles and an end to appointments from the official Teachers Registration List and the introduction of competition for jobs.

They claim that lecturer unemployment is not the result of distortions caused by the list, but the government's failure to bring appointments in line with universities' real needs.

Students accuse education secretary Gerasimos Arsenis of arbitrarily extending their studies by 18 months, seeking stealthily to abolish free state education and to intensify the study programmes so that students who want to take longer over a degree are excluded.

The student movement is gathering strength but the government appears neither willing nor capable of defusing the situation. Under-secretary of state for education John Anthopoulos insisted that "the government is determined to carry out its programme" but there are doubts about its ability to do so.

Linguistics professor Agapitos Tsopanakis, president of the Greek Academy, said: "Our education is at zero. We do not have good schools. We need good teachers but all we get is degree-holders who are unable to teach either in primary or secondary education."

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