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The Greek Minister of Education and Religious Affairs: Save the School of European Education Heraklion

The Greek Minister of Education and Religious Affairs: Save the School of European Education Heraklion

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This petition has been created by Keith F. and may not represent the views of the Avaaz community.
Keith F.
started this petition to
The Greek Minister of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs

The School of European Education in Heraklion Crete is currently under threat. The school's inspectors require urgent changes to the school's infrastructure and legal framework, and the European Schools administration has set a deadline of April 8. If by then the Greek Education Minister has not given a formal commitment to making the necessary changes, then the school faces closure. This petition urges the Minister to give this commitment as a matter of urgency, in order to safeguard this unique and precious institution. If you support the ethos of the SEEH and believe it is important that the school survives, then please sign this petition.

Campaign blog: http://savetheseeh.blogspot.gr/

BACKGROUND

The School of European Education in Heraklion (SEEH) was founded in 2005 to cater to the educational needs of the children of employees of ENISA (the EU agency for network and information security) but it is also open other categories of local children. It has two sections, English-language and Greek-language, and it follows the curriculum of the European Schools organization Schola Europaea. It is a state school, funded by the Greek government.

The school is non-denominational (unlike most other Greek schools), and it has a full range of classes from nursery to high school. Students study a broad-based European curriculum which incorporates second-language learning from first grade and third-language learning in high school, and students take the European Baccalaureate at 18. The school’s staff, who come from a wide variety of nationalities and backgrounds, are highly qualified, experienced, and dedicated. They are passionate about teaching and determined to promote the ideals of European education. The ethos of the school is summed up in the words of Jean Monnet from 1953:

“Educated side by side, untroubled from infancy by divisive prejudices, acquainted with all that is great and good in the different cultures, it will be borne in upon them as they mature that they belong together. Without ceasing to look to their own lands with love and pride, they will become in mind Europeans, schooled and ready to complete and consolidate the work of their fathers before them, to bring into being a united and thriving Europe.” (Source: http://www.eursc.eu/index.php?id=132)

The ideals of the school represent the best of the European spirit – the spirit of a mutually supporting community, which respects the differences between nations but shares a common commitment to democracy, equality, and respect for human rights. The SEEH is a school where Scandanavian children sing Theodorakis and Greek children perform Shakespeare, where Italian children sing German folk songs and English children dance the pentozali, and where all learn to respect each other and value the differences between them. It cultivates precisely the outward- looking, optimistic, democratic outlook that Greece and fellow European nations must adopt if they are to form a genuine community.

The school is also economically important for Heraklion and Crete. Heraklion has vibrant business and artistic communities with worldwide connections, and it is home to many international research institutions, including the University of Crete, the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH), and the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, which attract visiting researchers from around the world. By providing high-quality English-language education at primary and secondary levels, the SEEH helps to attract academics and other professionals to take up posts in Crete, strengthening and enriching the academic and cultural life of the island and of Greece as a whole. Without the school, it would be much harder to get leading professionals from outside Greece to move here with their families. The school is the only European School in Greece, and the only international school in Crete. It is a very precious asset. Yet its existence is under threat.

The school recently underwent inspection by the European Schools inspectorate, and their draft report was supplied to parents this week (25 March 2014). Unsurprisingly, the inspectors had many good things to say. They praised the dedication of the school management and teachers and remarked on the school’s warm pedagogical atmosphere and stimulating learning environment. They commended the structure of lessons, the use of ICT, and the range of extra-curricular activities provided. They noted that students are very positive about the school, feel privileged to be part of it, and believe it will give them a good start at university. They praised the school for its openness and for taking the lead in local cultural and regional projects and for building contacts with other schools across Europe.

However, the inspectors also highlight some serious problems which they want to see resolved as a matter of urgency. They highlight three issues: (1) Lack of continuity for teachers, who are on yearly contracts only, (2) Low pupil numbers, especially in the English section, and (3) The school building, which is not large or well-equipped enough for a school of this type. The inspectors note that these problems seriously threaten the existence of the school.Clearly, these are not issues the school management and teachers can resolve; they are matters for the regional and national authorities. The inspectors urge the Greek authorities to find solutions and save the school.

The inspectors go on to make six specific recommendations, concerning teacher recruitment and contracts, student enrolment, the relationship with ENISA, and other matters, designed to address the problems identified. They indicate that the future of the school depends on these recommendations being quickly accepted and implemented by the Greek authorities.

In the words of the European Schools inspectors “It is up to the Greek authorities to save this school and to find solutions for the problems, in the very short term!”

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Here are some links to further information about the school:

* The SEEH website: http://sch-eur-education.ira.sch.gr/ (see also http://europeanschoolheraklion.eu/)

* Facebook page for the European School of Heraklion (please like!): https://www.facebook.com/pages/European-School-of-Heraklion/220386494718212

* Schola Europaea: http://www.eursc.eu/index.php?id=2

* Voices from the SEE (video interviews with teachers and parents): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRQYKarFT0k

* Blog posts about the school by a teacher:

http://philhellenes.org/the-school-of-european-education-heraklion-a-plea/#sthash.ydfSrWAd.dpuf

http://mariakasmirli.com/2014/03/news-on-the-school-of-european-education-heraklion/

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The authority ultimately responsible for the school is the Greek Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports. Here are some links:

* Website of the Greek Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports (in Greek and English): http://www.minedu.gov.gr/

* Personal webpages of Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos, Greek Minister of Education and Religious Affairs: http://www.arvanitopoulos.gr/ (in Greek)

* Greek Parliament webpage for Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos with contact details (in English): http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/en/Vouleftes/Ana-Koinovouleftiki-Omada/?MPId=6919b4cf-771f-46a9 -b3b5-8db81f7fab12

* Email address for Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos: [email protected]

* Facebook page of Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos: https://www.facebook.com/arvanitopoulos.gr