What can you do to help the European School Heraklion?

Some people have asked me what they can do to help the European School in Heraklion. Should they write to the European Schools organization, for example?

To answer this, I need to say a little about the nature of the problem. In order for the school to remain open, two things need to happen. First, the European Schools organization must extend the school’s accreditation. Second, the Greek government must continue to support and fund the school. (I suppose, in theory, the school could continue as a private one without any government support, but that’s not my preferred option.)

I’m hopeful with regard to the first factor — accreditation. The European Schools organization has been very supportive and I believe they understand the importance of the school and its potential. A decision on accreditation will be taken in April.

I’m more worried about the second factor — state support. Up till now, the Greek government has been under a legal obligation to fund the school as a condition of hosting the European Agency ENISA, which has been based in Heraklion since 2005. But ENISA seems to be in the process of withdrawing from Crete and perhaps from Greece as a whole. This is, I think, a pity (in many ways Heraklion is the ideal base for it), but I’m not hopeful that ENISA can be persuaded to stay.

Moreover, I don’t think it is good for the school to be dependent on the presence of a single, relatively small, institution. Although ENISA staff have been wonderful supporters of the school, people in the city have always worried that one day ENISA will leave, and this has limited the school’s development. Parents have been reluctant to entrust their children’s education to a school and educational system that may have no long-term future here. And, as I have already argued, there is a very strong case for having a European School in Heraklion, quite independent of whether or not ENISA is here. (I could say much more about this.) This, I think, is the case we need to make right now. And we need to make this case to the Greek authorities, local and national.

If you want to help, then I suggest you contact people in the local authority here in Heraklion and in the Ministry of Education in Athens and tell them why it is so important to you that the school stays open. Below I’ve listed some of the people you might like to get in touch with. (Some of these are already supportive of the school, so messages from you will encourage them and strengthen their hand in negotiation.)

George Terzakis, Regional Director of Primary and Secondary Education in Crete (the person with immediate responsibility for the school.) Tel: +30-2810-302440 Email: mail@kritis.pde.sch.gr

Stavros Arnaoutakis, Regional Governor of Crete. Tel.: +30-2813-400300/305 Email: gram.pkr@pkr.gov.1gr

Vassilis Labrinos Mayor of Heraklion. Tel: +30-2813-409101/2/3 Email: mayor@heraklion.gr

Nikos Filis, Minister of Education, Research and Religious Affairs. Tel: +30-2103-442000 Email via this online form.

Theodosis Pelegrinis, Deputy Minister of Education, Research and Religious Affairs. Contact as previous.

Costas Fotakis, Alternate Minister for Research and Innovation and President of FORTH research institute, based in Heraklion. Tel: +30 2810 391316 Email: fotakis@iesl.forth.gr

If you are a Greek resident, please also get in touch with your local Greek MP.

If you are a citizen of another country, you might also like to contact your embassy in Greece. (The British Embassy has a Twitter account, as does the British ambassador John Kittmer.)

Please join this former student in helping to make the case for this school!

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