Low birth rates and high emigration leads to more school closures in Greece

As Greece’s population continues to decline due to low birth rates and high emigration, Greek newspaper Ethnos has reported that, because of this, schools and kindergartens have been closing in high numbers across the country.

The report says that because of the declining population size, between 2009 and 2014, the government closed 796 primary schools, 400 high schools, and 509 kindergartens. In addition, a further 14kindergartens and 9 primary schools will close by the end of next year.

And the issue is predicted to become worse. A survey released by the Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research (IOBE) estimated that by 2035, the number of school pupils in Greece will be 29.2% lower than it was in 2008 – 1,050,000 vs 1,480,000 in 2008.

The main reasons given for the closures is a lack of resources. Also, the 10-year economic crisis has driven over 400,000 young workers to move abroad, causing further damage to productivity and the economy. As families move elsewhere, there are far fewer children requiring education services.

According to Stavros Petrakis, secretary-general of the Federation of Secondary School Teachers of Greece (OLME), “Thousands of young people are moving abroad, as in Greece they can no longer work and create a family. The government must support motherhood not only with benefits but also with other incentives such as kindergartens, support for new parents, etc.”

Greece’s new government has vowed to address this by giving incentives to young people to stay in the country. The program, known as “Rebrain Greece”, aims to encourage young people currently working abroad to return to the country.

Among the incentives proposed by the government, there will be a new minimum wage of €3,000 which will be subsidised by the state for one year. Companies will be legally obliged to keep the employees after the one-year period for another 12 months with the same wages.

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