The education sector was hit hard by the
economic crisis in the 2010s. Government spending on the
school was cut by about a third during the crisis years
and the teachers' stoppage of employment led to
problems. As the economy has improved in recent years,
the government has increased its efforts to strengthen
In the so-called Pisa study, which measures, among
other things, 15-year-old students' reading ability and
knowledge in mathematics and science, from 2018 the
Greek students were below the average in the OECD
There is eleven years of compulsory schooling. The
two-year preschool is followed by six-year compulsory
schooling from the age of six and a three-year high
school. Students can then continue to a three-year high
school or vocational school. At primary and secondary
school level there are private schools that are under
Allcitypopulation: Offers a list of biggest cities in the state of
Greece, including the capital city which hosts major colleges and
Country facts of Greece, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
The general level of education was long low; in the
1950s, only one in four Greeks could read and write.
Nowadays, literacy is high. Nine out of ten school
students go on to high school.
The education system has been drawn with
shortcomings, even before the economic crisis. The
quality of education has been lower than in many other
EU countries and there has been a shortage of both
schools and teachers. This has led to the parents who
can afford having put their children in expensive
private schools, which has contributed partly to a
social stratification and partly to indirect
subsidization of the state schools.
The proportion of Greeks who acquire higher education
is higher than in many other OECD countries. More than
half of the new students are women. In the country there
are some 40 state universities and colleges, but the
places of instruction are limited and this means that
some are going abroad to get a higher education.
FACTS - EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary
92.9 percent (2016)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary
Reading and writing skills
97.4 percent (2011)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of GDP
8.7 percent (2005)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of the state budget
8.7 percent (2005)
Extra money for pensioners
Approves that poor pensioners receive a lump sum which will cost the state a
total of EUR 617 million; The government says the money should be taken from a €
1 billion tax surplus, but the country's lenders say the unexpected spending
raises questions about Greece's promises to live up to the aid loan
requirements. The ECB, the European Commission and the European Rescue Fund say
they will decide whether to approve the recent Eurogroup pledges on debt
Protest strike against EU-driven reforms
Greece's public servants carry out a one-day strike in protest against
changes in labor market laws and pension conditions and privatization of
government assets. Doctors, teachers and municipal employees are among those who
put in the work and most vessels remain in the ports. About 3,000 people march
to Parliament under the slogan "Tax the rich". Inside the building, members
begin debating the 2017 budget, which predicts 1.7 percent growth but is based
on increased taxes, including VAT, to increase state revenue.
The government is being reformed
Prime Minister Tsipras presents a new government with few new faces but where
many ministers are moved to other missions. The intention of the conversion is
believed to be to show ambition to accelerate the reform work required by the
Tsipras strengthens its position
Prime Minister Tsipras is re-elected as leader of Syriza. He is supported by
93.54 percent of the 2,700 electors at the party's congress. The last he was
elected in 2013 was 74 percent.
Limited disbursement of emergency loans
Eurozone finance ministers approve a payment of EUR 1.1 billion of the
emergency loan. Greece had estimated EUR 2.8 billion. The remaining € 1.7
billion will be withheld until the Greek government has presented in more detail
the reforms adopted by Parliament.
New economic reforms are approved
Parliament adopts a legislative package that will lead to continued payments
of international aid loans; The electricity market will be reorganized, the
privatizations of state-owned companies will be accelerated and the handling of
loans that are not repaid will be improved. Among the companies that are
privatized are electricity producer Dei and the state water authority.
Fire in refugee camp on Lesbos
A fire in the refugee camp of Moria on the island of Lesbos forces thousands
of detainees to flee from the barbed-wire fenced camp. The fire erupts after
refugees protested against rumors that authorities are planning a mass
deportation to Turkey.
The EU provides refugee assistance
The EU provides $ 129 million in aid to organizations that provide refugees
in Greece with supplies such as food, housing and education for children.
Approximately 60,000 migrants are trapped in camps in the country since
neighboring countries closed the borders while the return of refugees to Turkey
"Reform rate too slow"
Eurozone finance ministers warn at a meeting in Bratislava that Greece's
reform efforts are going too slowly. The country has just implemented two of the
15 reforms required for the next loan disbursement, at € 2.8 billion.
Tsipras wants to change the constitution
Prime Minister Tsipras wants to change the constitution of Greece and
introduce a greater measure of "direct democracy", where referendums are to be
used more often than hitherto. He also wants to limit the tenure of MPs to two
terms of office and separate the church from the state. If he is heard for his
proposals, they can be introduced at the earliest after the next parliamentary
elections, which are scheduled to be held in 2019.
Electoral reforms are approved
Approves the reduction of the voting age by one year to 17 years; At the same
time, it is decided that the 50 additional parliamentary seats that accrue to
the largest party should be abandoned. The reduced voting age will take effect
already at the next election, however, the 50 bonus seats will not be abolished
until the next election, since that proposal did not receive the two-thirds
majority required in that case.
The port of Piraeus is sold
Approves the sale of a majority stake in the port of Piraeus to the Chinese
consortium Cosco; The company got through its demand not to have to guarantee
that all jobs will remain.
The EU approves billion payments
Eurozone finance ministers approve a payment of EUR 10.3 billion to Greece.
EUR 7.5 billion will be transferred to Greece in June and the remainder later in
several smaller payments.
Parliament adopts a new set of savings and tax increases to ensure continued
payments of support loans; Among other things, a mechanism is introduced that
will lead to further reduced government spending if the budget is exceeded
during the year.
Some success in the Eurogroup negotiations
At a meeting of eurozone finance ministers, agreement was reached that Greece
should receive some debt relief in some form. However, the group excludes the
country from having regular debt write-offs.
Demonstrations in Athens and Thessaloniki
In response to Parliament's decision to tighten state finances, around 20,000
civil servants go on strike in Athens and Thessaloniki.
Decision on increased income taxes
Approves a series of proposals from the government on new measures to reduce
the state's costs and increase its revenue; New taxes for high- and
middle-income earners are announced, as well as reduced contributions to some
Alarms about paperless existence
Amnesty International says that paperless migrants on the islands of Lesbos
and Chios are living under terrible conditions as a result of the EU agreement
to allow migrants to be sent back to Turkey. Waiting for their asylum
applications to be processed, according to the human rights organization, they
are locked up with almost no access to legal or medical assistance.
Public strike against pension changes
The Public Employees' Association, Adedy, is conducting a 24-hour strike in
protest of the changes in pension and tax systems required by lenders. The
strike strikes hard, including air traffic and hospitals.
Hundreds of migrants are brought back to Turkey
Around 200 migrants are returned to Turkey from Greek islands on the first
day of the EU-Turkey agreement. The migrants will be kept in camps while Turkish
authorities will try to settle with the refugees' homelands if they are to
return. At the same time, refugees continue to make their way to Greece despite
the uncertainty about the opportunities for asylum in an EU country.
Amended asylum law adopted
Parliament adopts an amendment to the asylum law that allows refugees to be
returned to Turkey; The law is only adopted a few days before the first return
is scheduled to take place.
UN criticism of refugee settlement
The UN refugee agency UNHCR criticizes the EU-Turkey settlement, which,
according to the organization, has led to those who arrived in Lesbos after the
agreement entered into force into facilities similar to the detention center.
UNHCR cancels part of its activities in protest against forced detention. It
also does, among other things, Doctors Without Borders and the Norwegian Refugee
Council. Despite Turkey stopping all refugees, hundreds continue to come mainly
EU assistance with the refugee burden
Greece is promised extensive EU assistance in dealing with the problem of up
to 60,000 refugees stranded in Greece since the northern borders were closed.
According to a settlement with Turkey, everyone arriving in Greece from March 20
will be returned to Turkey. Those who are already in Greece requesting political
asylum there should have their cases individually tried and given the right to
appeal the refusal. The agreement forces Greece to quickly build up a
comprehensive asylum management organization. A number of EU countries are
expected to send staff to Greece to assist, a total of thousands of people.
Half a million refugees last quarter
EU border authority Frontex reports that almost half a million refugees
entered Greece without a permit during the last quarter of 2015. Of these, 46
percent said they were Syrians and 28 percent were Afghans.
Emergency grant from the EU for the refugee crisis
The European Commission is allocating EUR 700 million over three years to
Greece and other countries to cope with the large flow of refugees. Greece has
for its part requested € 480 million in order to take care of the up to 100,000
refugees that the government fears will soon be fixed in the country due to the
fact that all borders north are closed. This is the first time the EU is
providing humanitarian aid to its own member states. The plan must be approved
by all Member States and by the European Parliament in order to enter into
force. It is also unclear where the money is to be taken.
Chaos at the northern border
More and more chaotic conditions prevail at the border with Macedonia, where
thousands of refugees are not allowed to pass. German Chancellor Angela Merkel
says that the EU cannot allow the economically weighted member state of Greece
to suffer total chaos by closing its borders so that refugees are trapped in
Diplomatic dispute with Austria
Greece calls home its ambassador to Vienna for consultations in an escalated
dispute with Austria over the management of refugees. In addition, the Greek
government refuses to receive a visit from the Austrian Minister of the Interior
since she questioned the appropriateness of allowing Greece to continue to
participate in the Schengen co-operation, as she believes it is unable to guard
its external border.
Protest against refugee handling
The government submits a formal protest to Austria, after the government in
Vienna called the Balkan countries to a meeting on refugee management without
inviting Greece. The Greek government sees with concern how one state after
another closes the border or severely restricts the intake of refugees, which it
fears can have a domino effect that ends with hundreds of thousands of refugees
becoming trapped in Greece.
Tear gas against protesters
Police fire tear gas at a couple of thousand people on the island of Kos who
are protesting that a facility will be erected there to receive and register
refugees. Under pressure from the rest of the EU, the Greek government has
promised to quickly build so-called hotspots on five Aegean islands to better
manage the refugee flow. Four of the five reception facilities are reported to
Tens of thousands of Greeks take part in a nationwide strike against the
government's planned changes to the pension rules. Large parts of public
transport are still standing. The government wants to reduce the ceiling for
pensions from EUR 2,700 per month to 2,300 and introduce a guaranteed minimum
pension of EUR 384.
Strikes against changed pension rules
Thousands of farmers are blocking roads around Thessaloniki in protest of the
economic deterioration that planned changes to the pension system and tax rules
are expected to give them. Journalists also strike, with the result that
newspapers cannot be printed and the etheric media is without news. Strikes
among sailors stop ferry traffic.
EU criticism of border control
The European Commission reports in a report that Greece has grossly failed to
control the common external border of the Schengen Union. During the large
influx of refugees in the fall of 2015, the Greek authorities too often missed
registering and taking fingerprints on people who entered the country via
Turkey. If a majority of EU member states support the report, Greece risks being
excluded from Schengen cooperation.
Greece concedes to the IMF
The government concedes to the demands of international lenders that the IMF
should have an influence over the country's ongoing third aid package.
New leader of New democracy
Opposition Party New Democracy elects Kyriakos Mitsotakis to chair a member
vote. He defeats Vangelis Meimarakis who has been leading the party
provisionally since July 2015, when Antonis Samaras resigned after the Greek
people in a referendum said no to the terms of the aid package to Greece.
Mitsotakis is one of the country's leading political families. His father,
Konstantinos, was Prime Minister from 1990 to 1993 and his sister Dora
Bakogianni was Foreign Minister from 2006 to 2009.