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Education in Greece
Greece education logo.png
Minister for Education and Religious Affairs, Sport and Culture
Minister Andreas Loverdos
National education budget (2010)
Budget

12,08 billion (public)

4% of GDP1
General details
Primary languages Greek
Literacy (2014)
Total 98%
Male 99%
Female 97%
Enrollment
Total 1,426,175
Primary 786,025 2
Secondary 360,248 3
Post secondary 276,902 4
The building of the National Library of Greece

The Greek educational system is mainly divided into three levels, primary, secondary and tertiary, with an additional post-secondary level providing vocational training. Primary education is divided into kindergarten lasting one or two years, and primary school spanning six years (ages 6 to 12). Secondary education comprises two stages: Gymnasio (variously translated as Middle or Junior High School), a compulsory three-year school, after which students can attend Lykeion (an academically oriented high school) or Vocational training. Higher Tertiary education is provided by Universities and Polytechnics, Technological Educational Institutes (T.E.I., 1983 ~ present) and Academies which primarily cater for the military and the clergy. Undergraduate courses typically last 4 years (5 in polytechnics and some technical/art schools, and 6 in medical schools), postgraduate (MSc level) courses last from 1 to 2 years and doctorates (PhD level) from 3 to 6 years.

All levels are overseen by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. The Ministry exercises centralised control over state schools, by prescribing the curriculum, appointing staff and controlling funding. Private schools also fall under the mandate of the Ministry, which exercises supervisory control over them. At a regional level, the supervisory role of the Ministry is exercised through Regional Directorates of Primary and Secondary Education, and Directorates of Primary and Secondary Education operate in every Prefecture. Tertiary institutions are nominally autonomous, but the Ministry is responsible for their funding, and the distribution of students to undergraduate courses. Currently the Greek government only recognises the degree programmes offered by the state-run universities although there are several private universities and colleges offering degree programmes that are validated and overseen by American, British and other European universities. The Greek government is pressured to recognise these overseas programmes.

All levels of education are catered for by both private and public schools. State-run schools and universities do not charge tuition fees and textbooks are provided free to all students, although, from 2011 onwards, there has been noticed a shortage in new textbooks, forcing students to either buy stock books from bookshops, or participate in parent-teacher association-run book trades. There are also a number of private tutors schools, colleges and universities operating alongside the state education and providing supplementary tuition. These parallel schools (Greek: φροντιστήριο, frontistirio (singular)) provide foreign language tuition, supplementary lessons for weak students as well as exam preparation courses for the competitive Panhellenic national examinations. Most of the students typically attend such classes (and examinations) at the tutors schools in the afternoon and evening in addition to their normal schooling.

The Greek education system has been criticised over the years by Greek people for various issues, like difficulty levels of the exams during Panhellenic Examinations, number of teaching hours in schools etc.

Primary education[edit]

The public school of Astros, built in 1915.

Elementary schools are called "Dimotiko" (demotic, meaning municipal), a carryover term from a time when such schools were run by local communities. The name remains although it has been obsolete for decades. In the first two years pupils are not officially graded, and parents obtain feedback about their performance via oral communications with teachers. Grading begins in Year 3, and written exams are introduced in Year 5. Graduating from one year to the next is automatic, and pupils with deficient performance are given remedial tutoring. Years are called "classes", from first to sixth:

  • Year 1 (Πρώτη δημοτικού): age 6 to 7
  • Year 2 (Δευτέρα δημοτικού): age 7 to 8
  • Year 3 (Τρίτη δημοτικού): age 8 to 9
  • Year 4 (Τετάρτη δημοτικού): age 9 to 10
  • Year 5 (Πέμπτη δημοτικού): age 10 to 11
  • Year 6 (Έκτη δημοτικού): age 11 to 12

A normal school-day starts at 8.15 and finishes from 12.30 to 16.15 depending on the class and the school. The classes last between 30 and 80 minutes. The school year always starts in the second week of September and ends in the second week of June. The students have summer vacation (3 months), Christmas vacation (2 weeks) and Easter vacation (2 weeks). Furthermore, students take usually another four days off in order to celebrate their two national holidays (28/10 and 25/3).

Basic subjects:

  • Modern Greek Language (1 hour/day)
  • Modern Greek Literature (6 hours/week)
  • Mathematics (5 hours/week)
  • Environmental Studies (2–4 hours/week)
  • Physical Education (4 hours/week)
  • Music (2 hours/week)
  • Art (2 hours/week)
  • Theatrical Studies (1 hour/week)
  • Flexible Zone (3 hours/week)
  • English (2–4 hours/week)

(The hours a week for a subject may vary from the teacher who teaches)

Additional Subjects:

  • Physics (2 hours/week and only for years 5 and 6)
  • Geography (2 hours/week and only for years 5 and 6)
  • History (2 hours/week and for years 3-6)
  • Religion (2 hours/week and for years 3-6)
  • Social & Political Studies (2 hours/week and only for years 5 and 6)
  • Second Foreign Language (2 hours/week and only for years 5 and 6)

Grading System:

  • 1st Year: no grades
  • 2nd Year: no grades
  • 3rd Year: A-E
  • 4th Year: A-E
  • 5th Year: 1-10
  • 6th Year: 1-10

Enrollment to the next tier of compulsory education, the Gymnasium, is automatic.

Secondary education[edit]

View of the Jewish school, Thessaloniki

Γυμνάσιο (Gymnasium - Middle / Secondary School) (compulsory education)

  • Πρώτη Γυμνασίου / 1st grade, age 12 to 13
  • Δευτέρα Γυμνασίου / 2nd grade, age 13 to 14
  • Τρίτη Γυμνασίου / 3rd grade, age 14 to 15

Starts on September 11 and ends on June 15 to 18. The lessons end in the second week of May so that the students will be able to study for their examinations between May and June. The classes start at 8.15 and end from 13.45 to 14.15 according to the type of school. Classes last from 30 min. to 45 min. and there are breaks of 10 and 5 minutes between them. There are 6 types of gymnasiums in Greece:

  1. General Gymnasium (entering there from the primary school is automatic)
  2. Athletic Gymnasium (to enter this type of school students must pass certain exams on a sport like basketball, football, volleyball, gymnastics, polo, swimming etc.)
  3. Musical Gymnasium (to enter this type of school students must pass certain exams on a musical instrument)
  4. Art Gymnasium
  5. Experimental Gymnasium (to enter this type of schools students must pass certain exams on Maths, Science, Reading Comprehension and Writing [the last two are written as one])
  6. Church Gymnasium

There are many more subjects in the Greek Gymnasiums:

  • Modern Greek Language (2 hours a week)
  • Modern Greek Literature (2 hours/week)
  • Ancient Greek Language (3 hours/week)
  • Ancient Greek Literature (Homer Odyssey-1st Year, Homer Iliad-2nd Year, Euripides Helen-3rd Year), (2 hours/week)
  • Mathematics (4 hours/week)
  • Physics (2 hours/week for years 2 and 3, 1 hour /week for year 1)
  • Chemistry (1 hour/week and for years 2 and 3)
  • Biology (2 hours/week and for years 1 and 3)
  • Social and Political Studies (2 hours/week and for year 3)
  • Physical Education (2 hours/week for classes 1,3 and 1 hour/week for class 2)
  • Art (1 hour/week)
  • Music (1 hour/week)
  • History (2 hours/week for years 1&2 and 3 hours/week for year 3)
  • Religion (2 hours/week)
  • Computer Studies (1 hour/week)
  • Technology (1 hour/week and for years 1&2)
  • English (2 hours/week)
  • 2nd foreign language (German, French 2 hours/week)
  • School Vocational Guidance (1 hour/week for class 3)
  • Home Economics (2 hours/week for year 1,2)
  • Geography (2 hours/week for years 1&2)

Γενικό Λύκειο (General Lyceum - High School)

  • Πρώτη Λυκείου / 1st grade, age 15 to 16
  • Δευτέρα Λυκείου / 2nd grade, age 16 to 17
  • Τρίτη Λυκείου / 3rd grade, age 17 to 18

On April 2011, the Minister of Education, Lifelong learning and Religious affairs Anna Diamantopoulou officially announced the historic recreation of the General Lyceum. On September 12, 2011 the new system was introduced to the new students of the 1st grade of General Lyceum.

The subjects:

  • Greek Language (Ancient Greek, Modern Greek Literature and Composition-9 hours/week)
  • Religion (2 hours/week)
  • Ancient History (2 hours/week)
  • Maths (5 hours/week)
  • English (3 hours/week)
  • Physical Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Biology-6 hours/week)
  • Physical Education (2 hours/week)
  • Project (2 hours/week)
  • Principles of Economics (2 hours/week)

Επαγγελματικό Λύκειο / ΕΠΑΛ (Professional Lyceum)

Private schools[edit]

Arsakeio School of Athens, 1867
The Danish Institute of Athens

There is a wide range of private schools in Greece. 6% of students who attend compulsory education (the highest percent in the European Union) study in Private Schools. Tuition fees start from 1,500 € to 13,000 € according to the school and the year.

School elections[edit]

From the fifth year of the primary school to the third year of Lyceum elections are held.

Elections in primary schools

They are held every September, all the students are obliged to elect 2 presidiums for each class who "rule" until January when the other one succeeds the first. The role of these presidiums is to primp the classrooms for the national holidays and for Christmas. Furthermore, they transfer the complaints of each student to the school authorities.

There are 4 positions:

  • The President
  • The Vice-President
  • The General Secretary
  • The Treasurer

Elections in Gymnasiums and Lyceums

They are held every September and they are also divided in 2 parts.

In the 1st part every student elects the Presidium of his/her class.

The Class Presidium has 5 members:

  • The President
  • The General Secretary
  • The Treasurer
  • The 1st Member
  • The 2nd Member

In the second part students elect a School Council which has 15 members and represents the students. Its role is extremely important in every school because the School Council takes significant decisions for all the students.

The School Council has 15 members:

  • The School President
  • The Vice-President
  • The Treasurer
  • Another 12 Members

Tertiary education in Greece[edit]

View of the Ionian Academy, Corfu
Faculty of Education of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
  • Ανώτατα Εκπαιδευτικά Ιδρύματα - Α.E.I. (Higher Educational Institutes)

Higher Educational Institutes are consisted of two parallel sectors: the Universities and the Technological Educational Institutes (T.E.I.). In addition, colleges collaborating with foreign universities can offer undergraduate and postgraduate UK foreign programmes of study in Greece, under the proper registration with the Greek Ministry of Education. Usually, these programmes are provided following franchise or validation agreements with universities established in other European Union countries, primarily in the UK, leading to degrees which are awarded directly by those universities. In some cases these institutions are wholly owned and operated branch campuses of foreign institutions, as in the case of the University of Indianapolis - Athens Campus. List of universities in Greece

Private education[edit]

All levels are overseen by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. The Ministry exercises centralised control over state schools, by prescribing the curriculum, appointing staff and controlling funding. Private schools also fall under the mandate of the Ministry, which exercises supervisory control over them. At a regional level, the supervisory role of the Ministry is exercised through Regional Directorates of Primary and Secondary Education, and Directorates of Primary and Secondary Education operate in every Prefecture. Tertiary institutions are nominally autonomous, but the Ministry is responsible for their funding, and the distribution of students to undergraduate courses. Currently the Greek government only recognises the degree programmes offered by the state-run universities although there are several private universities and colleges offering degree programmes that are validated and overseen by American, British and other European universities. The Greek government is pressured to recognise these overseas programmes.

All levels of education are catered for by both private and public schools. State-run schools and universities do not charge tuition fees and textbooks are provided free to all students, although, from 2011 onwards, there has been noticed a shortage in new textbooks, forcing students to either buy stock books from bookshops, or participate in parent-teacher association-run book trades. There are also a number of private tutors schools, colleges and universities operating alongside the state education and providing supplementary tuition. These parallel schools (Greek: φροντιστήριο, frontistirio (singular)) provide foreign language tuition, supplementary lessons for weak students as well as exam preparation courses for the competitive Panhellenic national examinations. Most of the students typically attend such classes (and examinations) at the tutors schools in the afternoon and evening in addition to their normal schooling.

Vocational education and training[edit]

Obsolete institutions[edit]

  • Τεχνικό Επαγγελματικό Εκπαιδευτήριο, ΤΕΕ (Techniko Epagelmatiko Ekpedeftirio - Technical Professional/Vocational School, TEE)
  • Τεχνικό Επαγγελματικό Λύκειο, ΤΕΛ (Techniko Epagelmatiko Lykeio - Technical Professional/Vocational Lyceum, TEL)
  • Τεχνική Επαγγελματική Σχολή, ΤΕΣ (Techniki Epagelmatiki Scholi - Technical Professional/Vocational School, TES)
  • Ενιαίο Πολυκλαδικό Λύκειο, ΕΠΛ (Eniaio Polykladiko Lykeio - Unified Multidisciplinary Lyceum, EPL)

Current issues[edit]

The foremost topic of debate in recent years has been recognition of the private universities, which are forbidden by the 1975 constitution. Numerous private institutions, which are often franchises of European and American universities, such as State University of New York, but also non-profit accredited institutions or wholly owned and operated branch campuses of foreign universities, such as the University of Indianapolis - Athens Campus, are operating legally as EES schools (translatable as "Laboratories of Free Study").

Moreover, with few exceptions, the Greek government refuses to recognize three-year university degrees. Students who completed a Bachelor's degree in a foreign country find it difficult to secure employment in the public sector, unless they next obtain a Master's degree, in which case their academic qualifications are considered equivalent to a four-year undergraduate degree conferred by a Greek higher educational institute.

Following pressure from the EU member states, within the framework of the Bologna Process, Greece is revising its classification of degrees to bring it in line with the framework defined in the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System/ECTS. (It is usually the goal to accomplish a bachelor degree within 3 years and a master degree within 2 years.)

Criticisation of the System[edit]

There can be heard and seen lots of facts that show people's disappointment by the Greek Education System.

Many students and parents have the impression that Greek schools' role is not to improve their knowledge and abilities, but rather to follow Greek Education Ministry's typical orders about teaching hours. Many claim that the 7 teaching hours in 2nd grade education neither helps the students to get knowledge nor are good for their mood inside school (students feel too tired). Having to learn by heart long book texts, many hours of lessons that are not in the interest of the students etc. are often said as complaints by the students.

In Greece, students often have complaints (fairly or not) about the teaching and grading system of their teachers. There are heard occasions, for example, of teachers who put lower/higher marks to a student than they should have, based on their personal try and achievements at the lesson. The Education System is believed to follow a too 'democratic' view on such incidents, ignoring such issues.

Another important issue about which parents are complaining is that students most times need to attend private classes (φροντιστήρια) in order to be able to succeed in their lessons. This is a phenomenon noticed especially as the student approaches the 3rd grade because of the high difficulty of the Panhellenic Examinations and has been criticised because of the high expenses that most Greek families have to make.

Also, there have been repeatedly heard protests about the Panhellenic Examinations, such as:

'A little number of examining tests will judge the students' rest of life (in their 3rd grade education).'
'Modern Greek lesson's grading is subjective and students may get different mark than they should.'
'Exams are often made each year harder than those of the previous year.'

See also[edit]


  • Education Research Centre - Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, The Greek Education System. Facts and Figures (Supervision: Prof. V. Koulaidis. Compiled by C. Papakyriakopoulos, A. Patouna, A. Katsis & S. Georgiadou), Athens, 2003. (ISBN 960-541-106-7)
    • (Greek) Κέντρο Εκπαιδευτικής Έρευνας, Το Ελληνικό Εκπαιδευτικό Σύστημα Συνοπτική εικόνα σε αριθμούς, Αθήνα, 2003. (ISBN 960-541-108-3) [1] (accessed June 1, 2006)
  • Greek Educational System: The Implementation of the ICT in the Greek Curriculum in Compulsory Education, IACM/FORTH, November 2003 [2]
  • National report of Greece 2009 - Bologna Process: http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/hogeronderwijs/bologna/links/Greece.htm

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Greece — Please support Wikipedia.
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