Education is a top priority for the government and the best investment for Greece’s growth and progress, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in joint statements with Education Minister Costas Gavroglou after his visit to the ministry.
“Our goal is a modern and high-quality public education,” Tsipras said, noting that the quality of the education provided to young people and children was not just an indicator of progress but also an indicator of social justice.
Outlining the main aims of the government’s three-year plan for education, Tsipras said the operation of all-day primary schools will be extended to even the most remote areas of Greece and the period of compulsory education extended to 14 years, with the addition of two years of kindergarten (so that all children enter the school system at four) and three years of lyceum.
He also presented the government’s plans to radically change and improve the two final years of high school and the university admission system, as well as rationalising postgraduate studies, with a bill to be tabled in parliament in the near future that will give all students access to free postgraduate education and ensure that no one is excluded for financial reasons.
The prime minister’s visit to the ministry launches a round of visits to all Greek ministries, during which Tsipras intends to evaluate the work being done and to discuss any problems or delays that arise. Tsipras said he was starting his visits at the education ministry in order to signal that this was a very high priority for the government.
He promised to make specific announcements before the end of the year explaining how needs for teaching staff will be met over the next three years, further extension of the current free school meals programme, as well as promising additional funding that will enable universities to cover their running costs.
Finally, Tsipras stressed the government’s commitment to supporting research and innovation in order to counteract the ‘brain drain’ and the loss of highly-trained young people abroad.
Optimism that debt issue will be resolved by May 22 Eurogroup
“I believe that we are closer than ever to a real settlement of the debt and that this settlement will now require an express commitment by our partners since we are now out of the picture and the ball is no longer in our court,” Tsipras said regarding the agreement with Greece’s lenders.
He said the government was focused on achieving an agreement but declined to go into details, since the negotiations were still underway and would continue until May 22.
“This is the first time in the memorandum adventure that we are completing a review and not implementing measures in exchange for cash but getting cash against a commitment to implement measures in the period to come, on condition that we have sustainability of the public debt. This is not a manner of speaking, it is a fact,” Tsipras said.
He forecast that the agreement will “open very important new horizons for Greece’s economy” and explained that without an agreement on the debt, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will not consent to participate in the programme “and therefore there will be no demand for these measures.”