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Greece’s govt trades “Beef-VAT” for “Private Education” and “All-Day Schools” for “Teachers Hiring”

We normally call it a “horse trading”. But Greece makes the usual exception to the rule and invents a new term: The Beef Trading. In the hard and shrewd bargaining  with creditors, the Greek government achieved to lower the Value Added Tax of 23% to beef and beef products and accepted to collect the ‘missing revenues’ by imposing 23% V.A.T on …Private Education. At the same time, in an effort to fill some 24,000 shortages in education personnel in public schools, the government decided to ‘sacrifice’ the All-Day-Schools by shortening their operation hours.

All Day Schools vs Teachers Hiring

Greece’ government is considering to shorten the primary school day in the context of creditors’ demanded “structural reform.” The shortening of working hours in the so-called “All-day Schools” is part of the Greek government efforts to save money so that it can cover teacher shortages. According to estimations 24,000-26,000 teachers are missing in the primary education year 2015-2016, as the Loan Agreements from 2010 onwards allow hiring in the public service only in 1:10 ratio, i.e. 10 civil servants must leave the service due to retirement or other reasons, so that 1 civil servants is hired.

What creditors’, Greek government and other supporters of Orwellian Language describe as “reasonable structural reform” will affect around 340,000 primary school children and their desperate parents. The structural reform will force parents to seek solutions to three challenges: 1) who will pick up their kids from school 2) who will take care of their kids until they return from work 3) who and how will pay for the new needed service in a country where benefits and allowances are at a ridiculous low level – if at all.

The program of “all-Day” schools started in 2010 with European Union Funds – usually covering the first year of the project, then the Greek state had to fund it. The program made necessary the hiring of special skilled personnel for IT, arts, sports and others. Starting at 8:10 am, the school program concludes at around 3.30 in the afternoon. Besides giving parents the opportunity to have a full time job, the pupils have the opportunity to learn additional skills.

This extended school program has been very popular and according to media, it covers 58% of primary education pupils (589,000 in total) that is 340,000 in total. 1,336 primary education school out of 4,564 across the country have been running this all-day scheme that has been especially successful in big cities with populous schools.

But now the creditors and the government seems to have come to their senses: why do Greek pupils need additional skills and activities, when they will be jobless when they finish primary, secondary and higher education, anyway?

Trade “Beef” for “Private Education”

It has been a tradition for decades: Not only wealthy Greek parents but also those with lesser financial means often choose to give their children a better chance for their later life. They chose to bypass the notoriously and permanently inadequate and low-quality public school system and send their kids to private schools.

Now, this privilege will come to an end. Or it will be secured only for the very few. On Saturday, the government traded the Value Added Tax for private education for lower Value Added Tax in beef.

During the bailout negotiations on Saturday, the government managed to persuade the creditors’ technical teams to lower the 23% on beef and beef products down to 13%.

The creditors demanded “equivalent measure”. And this came in form of 23% in private education.

The 23% V.A.T. hike will have parents who insist on private education to spend another €1,500 – €2,000 per year in order to have their children learn useful things in a primary or secondary school, a vocational school or a college.

According to media, there are over 300 private schools across Greece, the annual fees start at €4,500 and end somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 euro, depending on whether pupils and students learn the normal ABC or the ABC wrapped in leaves of gold, I suppose.

A 23% V.A.T. has been introduced to secondary education cram schools (frontistirio) and foreign language institutes since the government voted in favor of the first set of “prior actions” in July.

One should stress here that it has been almost impossible for secondary education students to pass the exams for the universities without attending a “frontistirio” due to the low quality of the state education system. With the knowledge offered in the public schools passing the university exams requirements is like crossing the ocean of knowledge on a wooden canoe and a half-broken paddle.

The ‘institution’ of frontistirio arouse during the colonels’ junta, when thousands of teachers were fired from public schools due to their ideology. They sought new income by offering tutoring to weak secondary education students, soon they expanded to offer tutoring to university exams candidates. A new “institution” was born, the Frontistirio, that helped millions of students to understand the principles of Geometry and Algebra, of Physics and Chemistry as well as the tricky syntax of Ancient Greek and Latin.

Nursery school personnel gets working hours cut

And this is an additional cut that just came in: Municipality Nursery Schools will cut the working hours of the personnel from 8 down to 6 hours per day. According to the Interior Ministry reasoning the working hours cut come because the nursery personnel had working hours increased by 2.5 hours more per week than other civil servants. The increase has been: ten hours per week for nursery schools personnel, 7.5 hours per week for the other civil servants.

Municipalities complain that the working hours reduction will cause problems to the nursery schools operations and that they cannot afford to hire more personnel to cover the gap that will arise.

Of course, if municipalities would pay less for public cleaners (800 euro net per month, 8-month contracts, 6.5 hours per day) they could relocate the funds, right?)

PS fact is whether with or without teachers, the public school system has been ‘sick’ for decades, all efforts in the last decades to improve it have failed and no structural reform can save it. Only a few teachers make the difference, the rest is hopeless, because the system is hopeless. Unless it has a 23% V.A.T.

Conclusion: Education is a luxury item.

Don’t bother to ask for the government or any government to fix the public education system. Then this will mean that the thousands of teachers who work at Frontistiria will lose their jobs and income.

The one hand washes the other 🙂

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  1. René Henri Pasche

    Foolish! Would make more sense in Turkey. A Turkish plot?

  2. It would be great to enhance the level of education if all the teachers in the frontistiria could be incorporated in the “normal” schoolsystem. It would keep the parents from paying extra tutoring, the expertise of the teachers can benefit all children everyday and these teachers would not lose their jobs. I speak as a mother of two born in Greece but having them educated abroad.