Countries across the OECD and beyond are implementing reforms to build education systems that combine excellence with equity. They are aiming to go beyond traditional skills and to help students develop a new set of skills for a more challenging, digital and multicultural world. Today, education systems should focus on nurturing new values, self-awareness, sensitivity and a better understanding of the need to build a more human world. They should also empower students with new competencies to be able to tackle change, to develop and use new technologies, to take on jobs that may not even exist at present and to thrive in a highly interconnected world. At the same time, it is crucial to focus on the development of social, emotional and critical thinking, team work, openness, empathy, tolerance and intercultural understanding in order to build democratic and respectful societies. These are some of the complex challenges faced by many countries and by Greece in particular.

This is a foundational moment for Greece. Emerging from a severe economic and social crisis that has greatly affected its economy, society and education system, it has engaged in a number of important reforms to re-establish the conditions for its education system to thrive. In this context, the OECD was requested by the Government of Greece to pursue an Education Review with the aim of identifying key challenges in the education system and putting forward recommendations to effectively tackle them.

OECD analysis recognises that there are several encouraging factors underpinning the Greek education system today. Education is a priority in Greece. Powered by a qualified and well-engaged teacher workforce, educational attainment rates are high in upper secondary and tertiary education, and students are highly motivated to study in schools and value their teachers. Building on these strengths, Greece has recently taken a range of actions towards educational improvement, with initiatives such as all-day schools, the new database of school indicators, and the introduction of school self-evaluation mechanisms. There is also a clear national commitment to achieving greater equity in educational provision and student outcomes.

Despite these positive factors, significant challenges persist. Results from comparative data such as the OECD Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA), show that the performance of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics and science has not been improving and remains below the OECD average. The basic skills of adults in Greece are also lower than average, as measured in the Survey of Adult Skills (from the OECD Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)). Other more structural challenges include a highly centralised system, a lack of comparable educational funding data and a lack of consensus on the best approach to manage the system’s way out from the constraints imposed by the economic crisis.

In addition, the economic and social conditions remain difficult. Public educational expenditure has not increased during the years of the crisis, and low resourced schools have up to 14% of teachers with temporary contracts, an increasingly diverse student body, including high levels of child poverty and a larger proportion of migrant and refugee students.

Education for a Bright Future in Greece provides an in-depth analysis of the context and the underlying policy issues. The aim is to help the Greek government address some of the key questions that need to be answered to strengthen the education system. For example:

  • How can the governance and funding of the education system be more effective? How can “school units” become schools with more professional autonomy and support? How can the current appointment of temporary teachers be solved in order to ensure stability in schools?

  • How can Greek students be ensured a high quality public education and not necessarily need to attend shadow education? How can refugees and migrants be better integrated into schools?

  • How can schools, the work of their teachers and school leaders be best supported in terms of workforce management and professional learning opportunities? What type of evaluation and assessment framework can underpin a nascent accountability culture?

  • What are the pre-conditions for tertiary education to be more effective? How to provide greater autonomy to tertiary education institutions while having accountability for outcomes?

To address some of these and other questions, the study highlights the importance of, providing greater autonomy and stronger roles to school principals, as well as to local and regional authorities; maintaining a strong focus on educators’ professionalism, including the recruitment, development and retention of excellent teachers and leaders; developing a shared vision with the tertiary education sector to further support its development; communicating clear education policy goals, and building public perceptions and support for these goals; and continuing to build the institutions and infrastructure which support educational improvement, among other actions.

I hope that this analysis and recommendations, can contribute towards enriching the debate to support Greece in the implementation of its education reforms and help build a stronger, more inclusive and more effective education system that can contribute to a brighter future in Greece.


Gabriela Ramos

Special Counsellor to the OECD Secretary-General

OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa