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Greek highschool

School students protest in Thessalonika. Photograph: Teacher Dude

Thousands of students, teachers, and parents have been taking part in a national student demonstration reports Marina Prentoulis

After the universities, the schools: the new education reforms proposed by the Greek government have been met with a wave of protests and school occupations across Greece. According to the Greek Minister of Education 500 schools are currently occupied.  The proposals for the new model of secondary education (Lyseum) will impose exams that will determine the progression from one year to the next during the last three years of schooling. This model will deter many students from completing their high school education. The existing exams determining university admissions at the final year of secondary schooling have already created huge ‘shadow’ economy based on private tuition specializing in coaching pupils for the admissions exams. The new model will enhance this need and will benefit those families with the financial means to support their children’s education.

The class oriented logic of the new educational reforms does not stop there. A fourth year at the vocational schools is perceived by pupils as essentially unpaid labour in the context of specialization. The whole logic behind the reforms is to “make sure High School graduates end up as unskilled labourers or ‘screw’ workers. The whole aim of the apprenticeship system is to make sure that young people never have any labour rights, never know what the 8 hours working day is, never learn their right to strike”.

The answer of the students is collective action and in their slogans they make it clear: ‘”We get stronger when we fight for education and life” and “The students don’t kneel, they fight for education and a different society”. The government responded by suppressing their voices. Despite the assurances of the Ministry of Education that "it will not take punitive measures," prosecutors and police were quick to do exactly the opposite. The arrests of students in schools across Greece started a day before the occupations/squats aiming at an early suppression.

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