The education sector was hit hard by the economic crisis in the 2010s. Government spending on the school was cut by about a third during the crisis years and the teachers’ stoppage of employment led to problems. As the economy has improved in recent years, the government has increased its efforts to strengthen teaching.
In the so-called Pisa study, which measures, among other things, 15-year-old students’ reading ability and knowledge in mathematics and science, from 2018 the Greek students were below the average in the OECD countries.
There is eleven years of compulsory schooling. The two-year preschool is followed by six-year compulsory schooling from the age of six and a three-year high school. Students can then continue to a three-year high school or vocational school. At primary and secondary school level there are private schools that are under state supervision.
- COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Greece, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
The general level of education was long low; in the 1950s, only one in four Greeks could read and write. Nowadays, literacy is high. Nine out of ten school students go on to high school.
The education system has been drawn with shortcomings, even before the economic crisis. The quality of education has been lower than in many other EU countries and there has been a shortage of both schools and teachers. This has led to the parents who can afford having put their children in expensive private schools, which has contributed partly to a social stratification and partly to indirect subsidization of the state schools.
The proportion of Greeks who acquire higher education is higher than in many other OECD countries. More than half of the new students are women. In the country there are some 40 state universities and colleges, but the places of instruction are limited and this means that some are going abroad to get a higher education.
- Topmbadirectory: Offers information about politics, geography, and known people in Greece.
FACTS – EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary school
92.9 percent (2016)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary school
Reading and writing skills
97.4 percent (2011)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP
8.7 percent (2005)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget
8.7 percent (2005)
Extra money for pensioners
Approves that poor pensioners receive a lump sum which will cost the state a total of EUR 617 million; The government says the money should be taken from a € 1 billion tax surplus, but the country’s lenders say the unexpected spending raises questions about Greece’s promises to live up to the aid loan requirements. The ECB, the European Commission and the European Rescue Fund say they will decide whether to approve the recent Eurogroup pledges on debt amortization.
Protest strike against EU-driven reforms
Greece’s public servants carry out a one-day strike in protest against changes in labor market laws and pension conditions and privatization of government assets. Doctors, teachers and municipal employees are among those who put in the work and most vessels remain in the ports. About 3,000 people march to Parliament under the slogan “Tax the rich”. Inside the building, members begin debating the 2017 budget, which predicts 1.7 percent growth but is based on increased taxes, including VAT, to increase state revenue.
The government is being reformed
Prime Minister Tsipras presents a new government with few new faces but where many ministers are moved to other missions. The intention of the conversion is believed to be to show ambition to accelerate the reform work required by the lenders.
Tsipras strengthens its position
Prime Minister Tsipras is re-elected as leader of Syriza. He is supported by 93.54 percent of the 2,700 electors at the party’s congress. The last he was elected in 2013 was 74 percent.
Limited disbursement of emergency loans
Eurozone finance ministers approve a payment of EUR 1.1 billion of the emergency loan. Greece had estimated EUR 2.8 billion. The remaining € 1.7 billion will be withheld until the Greek government has presented in more detail the reforms adopted by Parliament.
New economic reforms are approved
Parliament adopts a legislative package that will lead to continued payments of international aid loans; The electricity market will be reorganized, the privatizations of state-owned companies will be accelerated and the handling of loans that are not repaid will be improved. Among the companies that are privatized are electricity producer Dei and the state water authority.
Fire in refugee camp on Lesbos
A fire in the refugee camp of Moria on the island of Lesbos forces thousands of detainees to flee from the barbed-wire fenced camp. The fire erupts after refugees protested against rumors that authorities are planning a mass deportation to Turkey.
The EU provides refugee assistance
The EU provides $ 129 million in aid to organizations that provide refugees in Greece with supplies such as food, housing and education for children. Approximately 60,000 migrants are trapped in camps in the country since neighboring countries closed the borders while the return of refugees to Turkey is slow.
“Reform rate too slow”
Eurozone finance ministers warn at a meeting in Bratislava that Greece’s reform efforts are going too slowly. The country has just implemented two of the 15 reforms required for the next loan disbursement, at € 2.8 billion.
Tsipras wants to change the constitution
Prime Minister Tsipras wants to change the constitution of Greece and introduce a greater measure of “direct democracy”, where referendums are to be used more often than hitherto. He also wants to limit the tenure of MPs to two terms of office and separate the church from the state. If he is heard for his proposals, they can be introduced at the earliest after the next parliamentary elections, which are scheduled to be held in 2019.
Electoral reforms are approved
Approves the reduction of the voting age by one year to 17 years; At the same time, it is decided that the 50 additional parliamentary seats that accrue to the largest party should be abandoned. The reduced voting age will take effect already at the next election, however, the 50 bonus seats will not be abolished until the next election, since that proposal did not receive the two-thirds majority required in that case.
The port of Piraeus is sold
Approves the sale of a majority stake in the port of Piraeus to the Chinese consortium Cosco; The company got through its demand not to have to guarantee that all jobs will remain.
The EU approves billion payments
Eurozone finance ministers approve a payment of EUR 10.3 billion to Greece. EUR 7.5 billion will be transferred to Greece in June and the remainder later in several smaller payments.
Parliament adopts a new set of savings and tax increases to ensure continued payments of support loans; Among other things, a mechanism is introduced that will lead to further reduced government spending if the budget is exceeded during the year.
Some success in the Eurogroup negotiations
At a meeting of eurozone finance ministers, agreement was reached that Greece should receive some debt relief in some form. However, the group excludes the country from having regular debt write-offs.
Demonstrations in Athens and Thessaloniki
In response to Parliament’s decision to tighten state finances, around 20,000 civil servants go on strike in Athens and Thessaloniki.
Decision on increased income taxes
Approves a series of proposals from the government on new measures to reduce the state’s costs and increase its revenue; New taxes for high- and middle-income earners are announced, as well as reduced contributions to some pensioners.
Alarms about paperless existence
Amnesty International says that paperless migrants on the islands of Lesbos and Chios are living under terrible conditions as a result of the EU agreement to allow migrants to be sent back to Turkey. Waiting for their asylum applications to be processed, according to the human rights organization, they are locked up with almost no access to legal or medical assistance.
Public strike against pension changes
The Public Employees’ Association, Adedy, is conducting a 24-hour strike in protest of the changes in pension and tax systems required by lenders. The strike strikes hard, including air traffic and hospitals.
Hundreds of migrants are brought back to Turkey
Around 200 migrants are returned to Turkey from Greek islands on the first day of the EU-Turkey agreement. The migrants will be kept in camps while Turkish authorities will try to settle with the refugees’ homelands if they are to return. At the same time, refugees continue to make their way to Greece despite the uncertainty about the opportunities for asylum in an EU country.
Amended asylum law adopted
Parliament adopts an amendment to the asylum law that allows refugees to be returned to Turkey; The law is only adopted a few days before the first return is scheduled to take place.
UN criticism of refugee settlement
The UN refugee agency UNHCR criticizes the EU-Turkey settlement, which, according to the organization, has led to those who arrived in Lesbos after the agreement entered into force into facilities similar to the detention center. UNHCR cancels part of its activities in protest against forced detention. It also does, among other things, Doctors Without Borders and the Norwegian Refugee Council. Despite Turkey stopping all refugees, hundreds continue to come mainly to Lesbos.
EU assistance with the refugee burden
Greece is promised extensive EU assistance in dealing with the problem of up to 60,000 refugees stranded in Greece since the northern borders were closed. According to a settlement with Turkey, everyone arriving in Greece from March 20 will be returned to Turkey. Those who are already in Greece requesting political asylum there should have their cases individually tried and given the right to appeal the refusal. The agreement forces Greece to quickly build up a comprehensive asylum management organization. A number of EU countries are expected to send staff to Greece to assist, a total of thousands of people.
Half a million refugees last quarter
EU border authority Frontex reports that almost half a million refugees entered Greece without a permit during the last quarter of 2015. Of these, 46 percent said they were Syrians and 28 percent were Afghans.
Emergency grant from the EU for the refugee crisis
The European Commission is allocating EUR 700 million over three years to Greece and other countries to cope with the large flow of refugees. Greece has for its part requested € 480 million in order to take care of the up to 100,000 refugees that the government fears will soon be fixed in the country due to the fact that all borders north are closed. This is the first time the EU is providing humanitarian aid to its own member states. The plan must be approved by all Member States and by the European Parliament in order to enter into force. It is also unclear where the money is to be taken.
Chaos at the northern border
More and more chaotic conditions prevail at the border with Macedonia, where thousands of refugees are not allowed to pass. German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that the EU cannot allow the economically weighted member state of Greece to suffer total chaos by closing its borders so that refugees are trapped in Greece.
Diplomatic dispute with Austria
Greece calls home its ambassador to Vienna for consultations in an escalated dispute with Austria over the management of refugees. In addition, the Greek government refuses to receive a visit from the Austrian Minister of the Interior since she questioned the appropriateness of allowing Greece to continue to participate in the Schengen co-operation, as she believes it is unable to guard its external border.
Protest against refugee handling
The government submits a formal protest to Austria, after the government in Vienna called the Balkan countries to a meeting on refugee management without inviting Greece. The Greek government sees with concern how one state after another closes the border or severely restricts the intake of refugees, which it fears can have a domino effect that ends with hundreds of thousands of refugees becoming trapped in Greece.
Tear gas against protesters
Police fire tear gas at a couple of thousand people on the island of Kos who are protesting that a facility will be erected there to receive and register refugees. Under pressure from the rest of the EU, the Greek government has promised to quickly build so-called hotspots on five Aegean islands to better manage the refugee flow. Four of the five reception facilities are reported to be completed.
Tens of thousands of Greeks take part in a nationwide strike against the government’s planned changes to the pension rules. Large parts of public transport are still standing. The government wants to reduce the ceiling for pensions from EUR 2,700 per month to 2,300 and introduce a guaranteed minimum pension of EUR 384.
Strikes against changed pension rules
Thousands of farmers are blocking roads around Thessaloniki in protest of the economic deterioration that planned changes to the pension system and tax rules are expected to give them. Journalists also strike, with the result that newspapers cannot be printed and the etheric media is without news. Strikes among sailors stop ferry traffic.
EU criticism of border control
The European Commission reports in a report that Greece has grossly failed to control the common external border of the Schengen Union. During the large influx of refugees in the fall of 2015, the Greek authorities too often missed registering and taking fingerprints on people who entered the country via Turkey. If a majority of EU member states support the report, Greece risks being excluded from Schengen cooperation.
Greece concedes to the IMF
The government concedes to the demands of international lenders that the IMF should have an influence over the country’s ongoing third aid package.
New leader of New democracy
Opposition Party New Democracy elects Kyriakos Mitsotakis to chair a member vote. He defeats Vangelis Meimarakis who has been leading the party provisionally since July 2015, when Antonis Samaras resigned after the Greek people in a referendum said no to the terms of the aid package to Greece. Mitsotakis is one of the country’s leading political families. His father, Konstantinos, was Prime Minister from 1990 to 1993 and his sister Dora Bakogianni was Foreign Minister from 2006 to 2009.