High school students in Greece went on a strike and marched to the parliament on Monday against the SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) government’s plan to introduce a new Lyceum (secondary school) bill, intended to reform higher secondary admissions in the country. The Ministry of Education announced the decision on March 14. As per the new bill, in October, 95,000 secondary school students belonging to the 3rd lyceum will be invited to initially choose 10 departments that they wish to join in less than four months, at the same time as giving this year’s examinations. The ministry, aiming for smaller divisions, will then allot courses to students based on their choices and the number of admissions per department. Sections in which the number of preferences will be less than the number of admissions are called Free Access Departments (ITFs), while the sections for which the number of admissions is less than the number of preferences, are called Access Points only with Pan-Hellenic (TPE).
Lyceum or high school system in Greece is comprised of three levels: 1st grade (15-16 years), 2nd grade (16-17 years) and 3rd grade (17-18). The ministry has also removed all general education courses from the 3rd lyceum.
The changes, which entail new forms of categorization and intensified competition, as well as render access to higher education difficult, have been opposed by students, parents and teachers alike. Many students’ coordinating committees rebuked this proposal and protested in various cities of Greece, including Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion, etc. In Athens, students marched in the city after gathering at Propylaea. In Thessaloniki, the students gathered at the Venizelos statue and marched to the province’s administrative headquarters.
Athens School Coordinating Committee said, “The SYRIZA government and education minister, K. Gavroglou, has been telling the media that over the next few days they intend to table the bill that makes our already debilitating schools even worse. They do not care about our anxieties and the stress we live in, with rigorous exams and a constant shift from home to school and then to tutorials. They do not care about the situation in our homes, where half of our parents’ wages go to the tutorials. They want to make it even worse! They are playing with the future of all students.”
902.gr reported that the pan-Hellenic meeting of various students’ coordination committees was held in Athens on March 16 to discuss the agitation against the bill. Student committees from Piraeus, Petersburg, Ilion, Glyfada, Thessaloniki, Patras, Preveza, Ioannina, Larissa, Heraklion, Crete, Chania, Lamia, Veria, Giannitsa, Komotini, Kalamata, Sparta, Kilkis and Livadia participated in the meeting and pledged to continue the struggle until the bill is rejected.
Several youth organizations, including the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE), expressed their solidarity with the students. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) condemned SYRIZA’s proposal on lyceum. They said, “The lyceum that the government wants to make will be even more old styled, with a lyceum-tutorial, where an endless exam marathon will be generalized and, at the same time, any general education will essentially stop at the 1st Lyceum, which comprises so much that young people have to learn by their 18th birthday, regardless of the profession they will end up in”.