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Unions defend cost of substitute teachers

From January until June 2016 a total of 730 teachers were asked to substitute regular teachers in the public sector, 422 in primary schools and 308 in secondary schools.
These teachers may be asked to stand in just once or more often, depending on needs.
The figures from the educational service commission were released on Wednesday as primary and secondary school associations continued to fight Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides’ allegations that large amounts of money are being squandered by the schools using substitute teachers.
In a letter dated May 11, Michaelides called on Education Minister Costas Kadis to look into a waste of money in public schools. Michaelides said he had identified certain goings on in state schools that were costing the state money without good reason. Citing a 2003 study, he claimed that exemptions from teaching hours cost the state €18mln in unnecessary expenditure a year.
President of secondary school teachers’ union OELMEK Dimitris Taliadoros disagreed. “There are laws by the ministry of education for these matters,” he said speaking on state radio on Wednesday. “And there are reasons for them.”
“Exemptions cannot be called unnecessary. A lot of the time is spent with children with special needs and most of the momey is for this. When a teacher of a class of 20 spends time with four children who have problems, that is not an exemption.”
“There is nothing hidden about it,” said Philios Filactou, the head of the primary school teachers’ union POED.
“What the teachers do is based on agreed laws and decisions which are just. If there are any irregularities, the educational ministry must deal with particular cases.” It was not right, he added, to blame all teachers.
Currently, 4991 primary teachers are employed full-time and an additional 734 are on a contract. 5834 work full-time in the secondary school sector, and in this sector 551 are on a contract.

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