Public School Advocacy - Say No to "Voucher Politics"!

For years the State has been deaf and stubbornly refuses to support the base of the educational pyramid, Pre-Primary Education. The lack of planning to upgrade Pre-Primary Education, both in terms of infrastructure and supporting the daily life of human resources, has been highlighted many times. Consequently, the State sidelines the children who are at the most critical age, the one in which the foundations of cognitive and emotional development are laid.

One of the constant requests to upgrade the level in question was the extension of compulsory Pre-Primary Education, from the age of 4 years and 8 months to the age of 4 years. A demand of society and teachers for decades and a completely fair request, with a purely educational/scientific basis. After years of waiting, the expansion was finally decided, which was hailed as a positive move, for the benefit of the students.

Unfortunately, however, the Government unjustifiably and defiantly decided to implement it in a completely wrong way! Instead of preparing a comprehensive and correct plan, through which the real needs would be apparent, as well as the number of additional children who would join the Public Kindergartens, the Ministry of Education decided to cripple the Public School and subsidize the private sector. While it could proceed with the immediate conversion of community kindergartens into public ones and proceed with the gradual securing of additional buildings and the recruitment of staff, the Government has announced the use of vouchers until 2026.

Thus, an attempt is being made to give the Minister of Education the superpower to send children to private kindergartens and not to public ones, by subsidizing part of the tuition, under the pretext that the children cannot secure a place in the Public Kindergarten. Defiantly, €12.25 million of the Recovery and Resilience Fund, instead of being invested in infrastructure, will be given freely to the private sector. At the same time, no one knows what will happen after 2026, when the European funding ends.

In essence, the inalienable right of every child to compulsory Public Education is being questioned. We are experiencing a brazen attempt to privatize Public Education and apparently the beginning of the sell-off of Public Education. The policies of the Government lead the public school to decline, with the simultaneous strengthening of private education. The plans that have been announced and an attempt is being made to pass through the Parliament, with mathematical precision lead to a deepening of social inequalities and deprive every child of the right to equal participation in public compulsory education.

The Government has an obligation vis-à-vis society to withdraw the bill and enter into an institutional-social dialogue, for a substantial strengthening of Public Education. The Parliament has a duty to rise to the occasion, to stay away from political games and dependencies and even to proceed with a review of the Government plans, so as to ensure the correct implementation of the expansion of Compulsory Pre-Primary Education from the age of four years old, through the structures of the Public School.

The fight of the POED is a fight to defend the Public School. A struggle that concerns the whole society. Every citizen of this place. The educational world as a whole, but also the citizens who understand the ramifications of the “voucher policy”, must give their “present” dynamically! On Wednesday, November 23 at 4:00 p.m., outside the Presidential Palace, we stand tall and shout NO to the degradation of Public Education and Public School. Let’s fight together, for the children of our country!

Michalis Alexopoulos, General Organizing Secretary POED, General Secretary A.Ki.DA

Leave a Reply