Findings of the First Pan-Hellenic Conference on Private Education
Saturday February 2, 2014 marked the close of the proceedings of the First Pan-Hellenic Conference on Private Education “Private Schools and Development”. The Conference was organized jointly by the Hellenic American Union and the Founders Association of Greek Private Schools.
During the final session on Saturday February 2, 2014, the Conference Chair Leonidas Phoebus Koskos summarized the findings that emerged from the presentations (12), interventions (15), and related discussions that took place during the Conference’s seven sessions.
- Greece and Europe will be able to emerge from the crisis only with the development of the knowledge economy, which accounts for 45% of the current total global value of products and services. If Europe as a whole fails to support the knowledge economy, by 2035 no European country will be part of the G20.
- Primary and secondary school education can play a decisive role in the development of Greece, provided that far-reaching reforms are undertaken in public and private education that will render the autonomous school unit a vital node in the educational process. The autonomous school unit is the natural space in which to foster free and responsible citizens, citizens with creativity and critical thinking, persons who have a desire to innovate and who are not afraid to undertake risks.
- The private school has an important role to play in the educational process, whereas the return of the model magnet school can be a decisive step in furthering public education.
- A study conducted by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) and commissioned by the Founders Association of Greek Private Schools reveals the systemic problems in private and public education, and underscores the need for better and more rationalized management of total national expenditures for education.
- The public and private school need to function as equals in supporting the fundamental right of parents to choose the school their child will tend and more generally the kind of education they will provide to their child. This right is protected by the Greek Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), but a number of Greek laws on education are at odds with the Constitution, ECHR and the acquis communautaire of the European Union in general.
- Special labor regulations have been passed that exempt employment relations in the Greek private school from the provisions of general labor law, and as such constitute a breach of this law. The regulations hinder merit-based hiring and the assessment and retention of the most competent members of the educational workforce. At the same time, with their emphasis on external (non-school) decision-making centers, they make it hard to forge links between teachers on the one hand and their place of work, their students, and learning outcomes on the other.
- Although Greek private schools are capital- and labor-intensive organizations. Unjustified disincentives hamper their operation and reduce the contribution they could make to the development of the country in general and the knowledge economy in particular.
- Internationally accepted assessment criteria and performance incentives exist that have been proven effective in schools and educational institutions elsewhere and could be successfully implemented in Greece.
- The Board of Directors of the Founders Association of Greek Private Schools is authorized to publicly disseminate and discuss the findings of the Conference and to put forth the views of the Association as well those of international organizations and experts in order to secure the greatest possible consensus on the national question of education and its decisive role in the country’s economic and social development.
The Minister of Education and Religious Affairs Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos delivered an opening welcome address at the start of the Conference, in which he congratulated the two co-organizers for their initiative. Welcome addresses were also given by the Minister of Development and Competitiveness Kostis Hatzidakis, who spoke about the contribution that Conference is making to highlighting “the importance of education in the national effort for recovery and development” and Vice Minister of Development and Competitiveness, Athanasios Skordas. Also present were the Vice Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, Simeon Kedikoglou; former President of Parliament, Anna Psarouda-Benaki; European Parliament MP Rodi Kratsa-Tsangaroppoulou; former Vice Miinister of Education and Religious Affairs Ioannis Panaretos; and the President of the “Dimiourgia Xana” party, Thanos Tzimeros.
Participants at the exceptionally well-attended conference had the opportunity to hear eminent figures in the world of education, economic development and academic share their personal and international experience on the issues raised in the Conference. The Conference featured presentations by former Undersecretary of Education in the Carter administration, Dr. Michael J. Bakalis, senior World Bank official, Harry Anthony Patrinos, and the General Inspector of Administration, honorary Greek Supreme Court Justice Leandros Rakintzis.
Photographs from the First Panhellenic Conference on Private Education: http://www.privateschools.gr