Greece continues to spend a significant amount of money in Australia to support the teaching of the Greek language, despite the unprecedented economic crisis the country is going through.
The Greek government sends dozens of teachers across Australia to teach the Greek language, although their numbers, due to the economic crisis, have been severely curtailed.
The vast majority of these teachers show great enthusiasm for teaching young children the Greek language, despite the fact they are poorly paid.
Parents who approached Neos Kosmos told us they are deeply moved by these teachers, who are fully aware of their duty to teach Greek to third and fourth generation Greek Australians.
According to the information we gathered, some of the teachers sent here receive their normal salary and a bonus for working in Australia, others (after staying three years in Australia) only receive their salaries, and some, if they decide to stay in Australia after three years, receive nothing.
Given that their salary is limited (on average around AU$1,500 per month) and due to the high cost of living here, they hardly make ends meet.
Moreover, they are not covered by Medicare and must have private health insurance so as not to be uninsured.
This is the reason Greek teachers no longer show willingness to leave Greece and to come to Australia for a limited period. They are placed at the request of the schools, mainly – community and parish schools as well as public schools which are considered to provide sound teaching of the Greek language.
“It bothers me that at various events school principals and presidents thank everyone but forget to thank Greece for sending out the teachers which the schools have at no cost to them,” said one of those teachers.
We are placing them according to certain “priorities”, Consul General of Greece in Melbourne Christina Simantirakis told Neos Kosmos.
Ms Simantirakis temporarily oversees the Office of the Coordinator of Education, which has been left ‘orphaned’ after the retirement of Mr B. Gogas, who has returned to Greece. He was temporarily replaced by another teacher who also returned to Greece.
The person chosen as the new education coordinator came to Melbourne and left after two days (for unknown reasons) without giving any explanation. His replacement has not yet been set.
Besides sending teachers, Greece still sends educational books to selected Greek Australian schools (it is not clear who has made the list of the schools and what criteria were used).
In any case, the significant contribution of Greece to the teaching of the Greek language in Australia is relatively known to the Greek community and it is not always acknowledged by some schools benefiting from it.