We need to let you know about some disquieting developments concerning the teaching of Classics in Greek Secondary Education. In recent years the Greek government has substantially weakened the status of Ancient Greek both at the level of the Gymnasium and of the Lyceum. FIEC has now contacted Mr Nicholaos Filis, Greece’s Minister of Education, Research and Religion, with an open letter addressing the issue and asking the Minister to intervene.
You may read the full letter below. In case you would like to support the efforts to preserve the status of Classics in Greece, you may consider signing this international petition.
“ Pisa, September 5th, 2016
I write on behalf of FIEC (International Federation of Associations of Classical Studies), a body which brings together all major associations of Classical Studies around the world.
In the past two years, our Federation has learned, with great surprise and profound concern of a steady restriction and downgrading in the teaching of Classics in Greek Secondary Education.
More specifically: According to a recent Ministerial Decision, in the three classes of the Gymnasium, one hour was eliminated from the teaching of Ancient Greek language. In the Lyceum, the restriction of Ancient Greek and Latin is also detrimental to the linguistic and cultural background of Greek pupils. In particular, in the first and the second class, the teaching of Ancient Greek was reduced by three hours (one hour in the first and two hours in the second class), while the teaching of Latin was abolished in the second and restricted in the third class to the candidates of Humanities. Similarly, the abolition of Pericles’ Funeral Speech in the third class of the Lyceum deprives schoolchildren of the acquaintance with the values of this unique text.
In the current year we hear that a more radical downgrading in Classics is imminent, since the Head of the Committee for the Dialogue in Education has proposed the abolition of the teaching of the original Ancient Greek texts from the Gymnasium and its restriction in the Lyceum only to those wishing to take Humanities in Higher Education.
All these measures will deal a heavy blow to Classical Education: if eventually applied in Greece, the birthplace of Classical Civilization, they will significantly weaken the younger generation’s skills in oral and written communication, clarity of expression and critical thinking. This is all the more unfortunate, since such measures go against the practice adopted in many countries, where the teaching of Classics has been recognized as an important instrument for the knowledge of our common roots in language and culture.
As an International Organization devoted to the promotion of Classical Studies, we ask you, as
Greek Minister of Education, to intervene to prevent downgrading the Humanities and support the teaching of classical languages and literature, thus enabling Greek youth to take full advantage of the substantial benefits of classical tradition in language and culture.
Looking forward to your reply, I remain
Franco Montanari (FIEC President)”