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Schools in Greece have less favourable disciplinary climates in science lessons than in other OECD countries, according to students’ reports in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015, with an index of disciplinary climate of -0.23 (the OECD average index value was 0.00). Student truancy was close to the OECD average: 19.6% of 15-year-olds in Greece reported skipping at least one day of school in the two weeks before the PISA 2015 test, compared to the OECD average of 19.7%. However, students in Greece were more likely to report that their science teachers adapt their instructions more frequently than the OECD average, with an index of adaptive instruction of 0.06 (the OECD average index value was 0.01) (OECD, 2016[1]).

The PISA 2015 index of instructional educational leadership (measuring the frequency with which principals report doing leadership activities specifically related to instruction) was a lot higher than the OECD average (0.24 compared to 0.01) (OECD, 2016[1]). The proportion of lower secondary teachers in 2016 aged 50 or over was 46.8%, which was among the highest in OECD countries (the OECD average was 35.4%). In 2017, teachers in Greece had fewer net teaching hours for general programmes than their peers in other OECD countries. Teachers annually taught 660 hours at primary level and 609 hours at lower secondary level, compared to OECD averages of 784 and 696 hours, respectively.1 Lower secondary teachers earned 115% of the average salary of a full-time, full-year worker with tertiary education in 2016, which was more than the OECD average of 91% (OECD, 2018[2]).

According to school leaders’ reports in PISA 2015, school leaders in Greece are less likely than their OECD peers to conduct self-evaluations of their schools (80.7% of students were in schools whose principal reported this, compared to the OECD average of 93.2%) and also much less likely than average to undergo external evaluations of their schools (20.8% of students were in schools whose principal reported this, compared to the OECD average of 74.6%) (OECD, 2016[1]).

In 2017, 50% of decisions relating to resource management (allocation and use of resources for teaching staff and principals) in Greece were taken at the central level, and 50% were taken across multiple levels, compared to OECD averages of 21% and 14%, respectively. According to school principals’ self-reports in PISA 2015, schools in Greece have some of the lowest levels of autonomy over curriculum compared to other OECD countries: 3.5% of principals reported that the school has primary autonomy over curriculum, compared to an OECD average of 73.4% (OECD, 2016[1]). Annual expenditure per student at primary level in 2015 was USD 5 810, lower than the OECD average of USD 8 631). At secondary level, Greece spent USD 6 786 per student, compared to the OECD average of USD 10 010, while at tertiary level (including spending on research and development) Greece spent USD 4 095 per student, compared to the OECD average of USD 15 656. In 2015, expenditure on primary to tertiary education in Greece as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP), at 3.8%, was one of the lowest rates in the OECD (OECD average of 5%). The proportion coming from private sources (including household expenditure, expenditure from other private entities and international sources) was lower than the OECD average (8% compared to 16.1%) (OECD, 2018[2]).

Evolution of key education policy priorities

Greece’s key education policy priorities have evolved in the following ways over the last decade (Table 8.12).

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Table 8.12. Evolution of key education policy priorities, Greece (2008-19)

Identified by

Selected OECD country-based work, 2008-191

Evolution of responses collected by the Education Policy Outlook, 2013-192

School improvement

The OECD identified a highly centralised education system in Greece, where schools and teachers have little autonomy. Other challenges include improving teaching quality and educational leadership, cultivating a culture of accountability and increasing the overall attractiveness of the teaching profession. Furthermore, there is a high number of substitute adjunct teachers, and many qualified teachers are employed by the substantial shadow education sector. [2017, 2018]

Greece had initially reported the need to increase education quality and improve the criteria for teachers’ selection, as well as further develop the management of qualifications and mobility. [2013]

More recently, Greece reported priority action areas during 2017-19 to strengthen teacher quality (such as through improved training opportunities), school leadership and all-day school provision. They also reported prioritising reducing the number of substitute adjunct teachers by hiring permanent staff. [2018]

Evaluation and assessment

The OECD identified an overall need to strengthen the evaluation and assessment system, including: school leader appraisal; developing a long-term plan for an overall evaluation and assessment framework focused on student learning and well-being; and strengthening school evaluation. [2018]

Another priority is to improve the role of teachers and establish meritocracy rules in education. There is also the need to assure quality and assessment of educational outcomes in primary and secondary education. [2016-17]


The OECD highlighted the importance of strengthening competencies and skills in order to improve employment and income and ensure well-being in Greece. [2013, 2016, 2018]

Greece had originally reported the need to improve the overall governance in higher education institutions. [2013]

More recently, and particularly during 2017-19, a key priority reported was the need for education policies across all education levels to take into account the geographical specificities of Greece (e.g. islands, isolated mountainous areas, and sparsely populated villages across the country) [2019].


On the funding side, decisions are highly centralised, and in the recent past, lower capacity and financial constraints have delayed the execution in funds providing for national co-financing. In addition, the school units were found to have fragmented and diffused responsibilities and finances. Also, the lack of comparable educational funding data was found to hinder the making of clear policy choices about the potential underfunding of the system or to unlock the challenges raised by the short-term recruitment and allocation of substitute teachers, which can lead to inefficiencies. [2013, 2016, 2018]

A challenge, according to Greece, was maintaining education funding given that the education budget had declined approximately 10% for all levels of education due to the economic crisis. [2013]

More recently, Greece’s priority has been to increase education funding. [2016-17 and 2019]


1. See Annex A (OECD publications consulted).

2. See Reader’s Guide (years and methods of collection).


Selected education policy responses

School improvement

  • All-day primary schools operate since 2002 in Greece, a type of school where students can stay after school to do homework and undertake creative activities or rest. The “classic” all-day school model allows children to stay after 2:00 pm at school. A “new” all-day school model began rollout in 2010, implementing five key principles in schools: offer extended all-day schooling (children may arrive from 7:00 am, with delivery of some education services until 4:00 p.m.) as well as be inclusive, digital, sustainable and innovative. The curriculum is extended to classes in, for example, art, drama, foreign languages or physical education. As of 2016, all-day pre-primary schools were extended for children to attend from as early as 7:00 a.m. and as late as 4:00 p.m. In 2016, the government made new proposals to combine the two all-day school types into a single “uniform” all-day school model. The aim was to ensure equality of provision across the country, offer provision as early as 7:00a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and include a compulsory curriculum with classes in English language teaching, information and communication technology (ICT), art, drama, and physical education in the afternoon classes (OECD, 2018[281]). The all-day school policy is complemented by the implementation of the Digital School strategy (2013, and updated in 2016). The strategy aims to ensure access to high-speed Internet connections and digital learning tools and platforms for all students to improve education results. The reform also aims to enhance the use of ICT to increase the efficiency of administration. In addition, as of 2017, a law change meant that any school, including kindergartens, could become an all-day school (OECD, 2018[281]).

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Progress or impact: According to 2016 data, out of all primary schools in Greece, 61% were “classic” all-day schools, 29% were “new” all-day schools with a revised cohesive programme, and 10% were not all-day schools. For the “new” all-day schooling, evidence shows positive feedback from students and parents as the enriched curriculum was found helpful, especially for students from low-income families. At the same time, OECD analysis of available evidence identified implementation challenges, such as a need to better integrate the afternoon service delivery, in particular for “classic” all-day schools; to ensure adequate infrastructure to support the new activities; to recruit teachers; and to avoid student truancy and dropout (OECD, 2018[281]).

With regard to the “uniform” all-day school model, the new enriched curriculum means less time for more conventional subjects, and therefore a shift in the teaching load from primary teachers to specialist secondary teachers (OECD, 2018[281]). The model was rolled out from 2016 to all pre-schools and primary schools with four or more classes (13 373 schools) with full expansion to all remaining primary schools planned from September 2018.

The digital school was piloted in 800 primary schools and 1 250 gymnasiums. For 2014-20, 7 350 primary and secondary schools in total are expected to benefit from the continuation of the digital equipment provision programme for schools, which is co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) and national sources.

In 2017, a further amendment to the all-day school law took place, and all-day schools were expanded to special education primary schools. In early 2019, actions already available on line included interactive digital textbooks, digital interactive materials, educational videos and educational software (National information reported to the OECD).

Additional education policies of potential interest to other countries

School improvement

  • The In-Service Education and Training of Teachers (INSET, 2016) was implemented by the Institute of Educational Policy and aims to provide training opportunities for teachers in, for example, the new curricula, new learning tools with the use of ICT, refugees’ education, descriptive evaluation, vocational education and training (VET) apprenticeship and differentiated teaching. As reported to the OECD, the majority of these training programmes are co-funded by the European Social Fund. INSET also includes teacher training opportunities for the induction of newly appointed and substitute teachers (Institute of Educational Policy, 2019[282]).

  • Furthermore, a recent 2019 law established a National Centre for Teacher Training (EKEPE) within the Hellenic Open University. According to national information reported to the OECD, to accomplish its role, this national centre will work in close co-operation with the Institute of Educational Policy and the Hellenic Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs.

Evaluation and assessment

  • In 2019, Greece established procedures for planning and evaluation of schools’ educational work (Law 4547/2018, Ministerial Decision 1816/ΓΔ4/7-1-2019) (Gov. Gazette Β΄ 16). The Decision covers the three thematic pillars of school and school life; school operation and educational procedures; and educational results (Eurydice, 2019[283]). The previous absence of evaluations meant that schools lacked data to know about strengths and opportunities for improvement (OECD, 2018[281]). It was also found that the “lack of transparency of school and student performance has also likely contributed to low levels of public satisfaction with and trust in the system” (OECD, 2018[281]).

  • A new information system (MySchool - Diofantos, 2013) was put in place for all primary and secondary schools to tackle early school leaving and low levels of basic skills (Government of Greece, 2019[284]). It consists of a student, teachers and schools database. Data from the database is provided to the Observatory of Student Dropout operating in the Institute of Educational Policy (IEP) to produce indicators on early school leaving. The first report on student drop out using data from the database was published in 2017, while more recent reports have been published in 2019 (National information reported to the OECD).


Selected education policy responses


  • To improve education policy, the Greek government established, among others, a Committee for National Social Dialogue for Education (2015). The committee involved key stakeholders in the system, with a mandate to begin developing a new national action plan for education (National information reported to the OECD). Several subcommittees and working groups were formed to discuss and form proposals on various thematic areas of the system (such as digital education, improving the quality of VET, teacher training and the reform of compulsory education).

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Progress or impact: The 2016 final report of the Committee for National Social Dialogue for Education proposed a new national action plan on education with a greater focus on equity. The 2016 report from the former president of the Standing Committee on Cultural and Educational Affairs of the Hellenic Parliament provided evidence and directions for the strategic planning of the Ministry of Education (National and Social Dialogue for Education, 2016[285]; National and Social Dialogue for Education, 2016[286]).

A three-year education plan (2017-19) was issued in 2017 with guidelines and proposals; it aimed to provide a more holistic approach to quality assurance in Greek education. The three-year plan includes guidelines and proposals in several policy priority areas, e.g. improve the quality of teachers, school leadership and schools through self-evaluations; update the curriculum; ensure all-day school provision; and develop further policy actions addressing the specific education levels of early childhood education to tertiary education (OECD, 2018[281]). The plan also underlined the importance of education policies to consider geographical specificities of Greece, including islands, isolated mountainous areas, and sparsely populated villages across the country.

In 2018, the following measures and legislation were approved: selection criteria for school leadership; the criteria for Education Priority Zones (ZEP); and a redefinition of the school network aimed at restructuring the functions and responsibilities of primary and secondary schools, to improve the effectiveness and quality of educational work. In addition, a 2017 tertiary education reform (Law 4485/2017) centralised decision making within the Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs (MofERRA), regulated fees and reviewed the status of universities. An OECD review pointed out that the plans may be further strengthened through strong links to an overall vision for education focused on student learning and well-being. It was also found that the initiatives included in the plans will also require that benchmarks are established and school-level capacity supported (OECD, 2018[281]).

Additional education policies of potential interest to other countries


  • As part of the three-year plan for education (2017-19), Greece has been working on a law to reform its national school curricula; this was an opportunity to focus on the future of education and improve equity (OECD, 2018[281]). By the end of 2018, the curriculum included many objectives; changes to the religious education curriculum were under discussion; and it was found that digital education was still insufficiently integrated into the curriculum (European Commission, 2018[287]). According to a 2019 law, changes in curricula of the third year of upper secondary school apply starting from school-year 2019/20. As of the time of writing this report, the curriculum reform was in progress for the remaining school grades, and a significant update and upgrade of Curricula for Vocational Education and the Apprenticeship year was in process (2018-21) with co-funding provided by the European Social Fund (National information reported to the OECD).


  • In 2011, the Ministry of Education presented a strategy to map schools across the country in order to enable mergers and consolidation of the school network. By 2011, more than 1 933 schools were consolidated to form 877 schools, despite the particular geomorphology of the country (remote islands and villages), which resulted in the reduction of around 2 000 teaching positions. Changes in the way school boards at the municipal level operate were also implemented, leading to approximately 24% less in human resources and operational costs (National information reported to the OECD).

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← 1. Note by Greece:

This is directly related to the fact that, according to Greek legislation (L.4152/2013 art.1), teachers’ net teaching hours decrease with age. So, teachers aged above 50 have fewer teaching hours than newly recruited staff. Furthermore, no recruitment has taken place for the last ten years due to the economic crisis.

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