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International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

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Subject Area: Education

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The in-service training of primary school teachers in Greece: views of directors and vice directors of PEK


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DOI (Permanent URL): 10.1108/09513549910278098

Article citation: Muhammad Saeed, (1999) "The in-service training of primary school teachers in Greece: views of directors and vice directors of PEK", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 13 Iss: 4, pp.180 - 187


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The Authors

Muhammad Saeed, Directorate of Staff Development, Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan

Acknowledgements

This article is a part of a project that was completed in four years (1994-97) under the guidance of three member committee: Dr Zoi Papanaoum (supervisor), Associate Professor Dr P. Xochellis (professor); and Dr Michael Kelpanidis, Associate Professor at the Department of Philosophy and Education, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. The project was funded by State Scholarships Foundation, Athens, Greece. Their co-operation is highly acknowledged.

Abstract

Gives a brief view of the in-service training of primary school teachers in Greece in the historical contexts as well as the current situation. The major purpose, however, is to investigate the views of directors and vice directors of “regional in-service training centres” (PEK) about the different aspects of in-service training of primary school teachers. These include: the objectives and curricula of different in-service training programmes; the methodology of teaching and practice; the assessment criteria for trainee teachers; the criteria for the selection of trainees and trainers; the provision of daily allowance for trainees and trainers; the organizational set-up; the financing and nature, duration and management and control of different training programmes. The results showed that generally the respondents were satisfied with the existing situation. The chi-square (w2) test demonstrated that position/rank and qualification had no significant impact on the opinions of directors and vice directors regarding most of these aspects.

Article Type:

Case study

Keyword(s):

Training; Schools; Greece; Teachers; Selection; Assessment.

Journal:

International Journal of Educational Management

Volume:

13

Number:

4

Year:

1999

pp:

180-187

Copyright ©

MCB UP Ltd

ISSN:

0951-354X

1. Background

The in-service training of primary school teachers was not a basic component of the Greek education system until the beginning of the twentieth century. It was in 1922 that the training of primary school teachers began in a systematic way at the University of Athens (Xochellis, 1991). The duration of studies was two years and the primary and nursery school teachers were enrolled after an entrance examination. The purpose of such training, as Angelis (1982) states, was “to provide personnel for key positions in the education sector, particularly for the supervisory posts”. Though the training was optional in character, it was compulsory for all those who were interested in continuing postgraduate studies abroad after passing the examination conducted by the “State Scholarships Foundation”. In the two year training programme at the School of Philology, Athens University, the trainees were sharing some courses with undergraduate students. This link of primary school teachers with the University School of Philology raised their status. But as in-service training of primary and nursery school teachers at the University School of Philology was a subject of secondary importance, the pace of training was quite slow. This can be analyzed from the fact that between 1965-72, only 1,607 primary school teachers received training at the university campus (Angelis, 1982).

In 1964 the in-service training of teachers was shifted to the newly established autonomous consultative body “Pedagogical Institute” at the Ministry of Education, Athens. But after just three years, the scheme was dropped due to extreme opposition from different sections, particularly the university circle.

An important phase regarding further education and in-service training of primary and nursery school teachers was initiated with the establishment of “Marasleio Teacher’s School of Primary Education” (MDDE) and “In-service Training College for Primary School Personnel” (SELDE) in 1972 and 1979 respectively. Another autonomous body, “The Centre for Educational Studies and In-service Training” (KEME), was established at the Ministry of Education to provide necessary guidance, supervision and expertise in the field of in-service training of teachers (Massilias, 1981). The purpose of MDDE was to enrol primary and nursery school teachers for a two year programme in order to prepare them for supervisory and administrative posts, e.g. head teacher and deputy head teacher, etc. This institution has been running smoothly in Athens. SELDE’s real function was to organize in-service training courses ranging from one to four months in both theory and practice for the newly recruited and already serving primary and nursery school teachers, head teachers and their supporting staff (Presidential Decree, 177/1983, articles 1and 4). It also organized a one year graduate programme wherein the working primary and nursery school teachers used to enrol without any examination or other typical procedure. However, in case the number of applicants exceeded the required limit, the selection was made by lottery draw or another procedure.

At the 13 different SELDEs located in different parts of the country (Presidential Decrees 255/1979; 725/1980), teachers attending any kind of training programme were also entitled an extra allowance, on the top of their salaries, in order to cover the additional expenses because most of them had to move away from home to attend such courses (Council of Europe, 1987).

The curriculum of SELDE comprises: common courses for primary and nursery school teachers covering about 52 per cent of the whole (including theoretical courses of education, psychology and philosophy); and separate courses for the primary school teachers corresponding to school curriculum. The attendance of the trainees was compulsory and the successful candidates were awarded certificates at the end of the training courses (Papanaoum, 1989).

The trainers or teacher educators at SELDE must have at least: Master’s degree in their relevant speciality and five years’ teaching experience (Presidential Decree, 177/1983,articles 1 and 4).

SELDE were closed in the academic year 1991-92 and in the preceding year a new body under the name “Regional In-service Training Centres” (Peripherika Epimorphotika Kendra/PEK) was established with the purpose of providing in-service training courses for all kinds of school teachers (Hellenic Republic Laws 1566/1985; 2009/1992). It is noted that the creation of PEK was not an incidental decision. The responsible authorities at the Ministry of Education took this decision after lengthy discussions to give the practical shape to the proposals from a research team of Unesco (Chiappano and Vandevelde, 1988) and the two major working groups (Omades Erghasies) formed at the ministry in 1988 and 1991 respectively (Ministry of Education 1988; 1991). With the establishment of 16 PEKs (Ministry of Education, 1995a,b,c,d), a new phase of in-service training of school teachers was initiated. The organization and management of PEK is controlled by the “co-ordinating council” (Sindonistiko Sumvoulio) at the Ministry of Education. Each PEK is headed by a director who is assisted by two vice directors: one for nursery and primary education, and the other for secondary education.

At the platform of PEK, usually three kinds of in-service training programmes are organized:

  1. initial in-service training;
  2. periodical in-service training; and
  3. intensive in-service training.

The duration of these three kinds of programmes is up to four months, three months and 10-100 teaching hours respectively (Presidential decree, 250/1992). Initial in-service training has been stopped since the last two years after providing training to 10,247 school teachers (comprising 32 per cent primary teachers) between 1992-94. Besides this a total of 11,690 school teachers (comprising 37 per cent primary teachers) were trained between 1992-94 through different periodical in-service training programmes (Ministry of Education, 1995a,b,c,d). Under the recent organizational changes, a number of “sub-regional in-service training centres” have been established at many district level cities under the administrative control of the already existing 16 PEKs. With the result of this decentralization policy, the pace of periodical in-service training has significantly been increased. This can be analyzed from the fact that within the academic year 1995-96, only at PEK-2 Thessaloniki, a total of 1,427 primary school teachers were trained through different in-service training programmes of 8-10 weeks duration. Now both trainees and trainers at each PEK are entitled to an extra-allowance.

As regards the programme of study at the PEK, this is the function of each trainer who formulates it in his/her own way, keeping in view the current needs of the school in that particular area. It generally includes the objectives, content outline, method(s) of teaching and assessment procedure for the trainee teachers. At present, the assessment of the training programme is normally based on the completion of a questionnaire which is filled out by the participant trainee teachers at the end of the training course (Saeed, 1997).

2. Purpose of the study

  • To investigate how the directors and vice directors of PEK conceive of the different aspects of in-service training of primary school teachers.
  • To investigate whether position/rank and qualification of directors and vice directors have significant impact in formulating their opinions.

3. Method and procedure

3.1 The sample

The sample comprised 48 subjects – one director and two vice directors at each of the 16 PEKs. All the directors were professors or associate professors and belonged to the pedagogical departments of the universities. The vice directors either belonged to higher education institutions or worked in some capacity in other state educational organizations, mostly with the status of teachers or researchers.

The average response rate was 62.5 per cent. The flow of responses was more intensive (by 18.75 per cent) in the circle of vice directors than of directors. The response rate varied from PEK to PEK. For instance, from four PEKs both the director as well as the two vice directors responded the questionnaire, but no one responded from two of the other PEKs. From the rest of the ten PEKs, one or two questionnaires were returned.

The respondents were more or less varied as regards their qualification and experience. For instance, all the directors held a PhD degree in education or in some other faculty, while the qualification of the vice directors varied from the highest of PhD (40 per cent) to the lowest of Bachelor’s degree (40 per cent) in education or in some other faculty; 10 per cent of the vice directors had a Master’s degree in education the while other 10 per cent did not mention their qualification. As regards experience, a remarkable majority of 83.3 per cent had a vast teaching and research experience of over 20 years. Thus the variable of experience was omitted from the study.

3.2 Instrumentation

A semi-structured questionnaire was developed to investigate the opinions of the directors and vice directors about various aspects of the existing in-service teacher training system at primary level. It comprised three sections. Section I contained personal information such as age, sex, name of institution, post/position held, qualification and experience. In section II, the opinions were asked by developing closed-type questions on a six-point rating scale ranging from strongly agree (1) to strongly disagree (6). The items included the objectives and curricula of different in-service training programmes; their methodology of teaching and practice; assessment criteria for the participant trainee teachers; criteria for the selection of trainers and trainees; financing; organizational set-up, provision of teaching and non-teaching staff and other physical facilities, and daily allowance for trainers and trainees. Section III contained six open-ended questions and was designed to obtain the suggestions of respondents to improve the existing in-service teacher training system.

In order to improve the instrument in terms of language, content and style/format, it was piloted by a small sample of five teacher educators at a PEK in Thessaloniki. The improved questionnaire was then administered on a large scale at all the 16 PEKs between April-July, 1996.

4. Analysis and interpretation of data

The data were analyzed by frequency distribution and percentage. In order to determine the significant difference in the opinions of the respondents by their position/rank and qualification, a chi-square test (w2) was employed (see Table I).

An average of about three-quarters majority of the directors and vice directors was satisfied with the achievement of the basic objectives of the different in-service training programmes at their PEK. These included: development of personality of prospective primary teachers, familiarization of newly appointed primary teachers with the basic educational activities, equipping the prospective primary teachers with the latest knowledge and teaching skills, development of a scientific approach in the prospective primary teachers through the use of modern educational technology, and the co-ordination of school’s teaching work with the practical needs of the teachers.

The chi-square test demonstrated that there was no significant difference in the opinions of the respondents by their position and qualification. The frequency distribution, however, showed that the highly educated respondents (MEd or PhD) and the directors were comparatively more satisfied with the achievement of these objectives than their low qualified (BA/BEd) vice director colleagues. The opinions of directors and vice directors varied slightly from PEK to PEK.

At the time of the study, there was no concrete syllabus for the different in-service training programmes. Teacher-centred curricula were followed at all the PEKs. Every teacher educator or trainer used to plan/formulate his/her own lesson including basic objectives, content outline, method(s) of teaching and assessment of trainees. A remarkable majority of about three-quarters of respondents were satisfied with the different curriculum development practices at their PEK. They had the opinion that the programmes of study for the different in-service training programmes at their PEK coincided with the objectives. The curriculum developed by the subject specialist teacher educators was more research oriented than that followed at SELDE in the past. Due emphasis was levied on theoretical and practical components. The most probable reason was that the highly qualified teacher educators were engaged in catering training courses and mostly belonged to university faculties. The majority favoured the recent step of establishing some “sub-regional in-service training centres” (MOKSE) at a number of district headquarters throughout the country. The number of training programmes has substantially been increased, and therefore, the teachers have found sufficient opportunities for attending the refresher courses of interest to them. About a two-thirds majority disfavoured the recent exclusion of practice teaching from the periodical in-service training programmes.

Chi-square results showed that there was no significant difference in the opinions of the respondents by their position and qualification. Minute differences in the opinions of the respondents at the different PEKs were obvious due to different teacher educators and the availability of other facilities.

In order to further improve the overall process of curriculum formulation, the majority suggested more emphasis on the courses of specialization, bridging the gap between theory and practice, and allocating more weight to the subjects on psycho-pedagogy, aesthetical and moral education, modern Greek language and literature, public relations (teacher-school-society) and methodology of educational research.

Methodology of teaching and practice has a close link with the provision and appropriate use of modern educational technology in the classroom teaching-learning process. Here about a one-third minority of the respondents was completely satisfied; the rest were either partially satisfied or completely dissatisfied.

A significant majority of about three-quarters were satisfied with the emphasis given to lecture method and laboratory work/seminars in the different in-service training programmes. Almost the same majority showed its satisfaction with the provision of guidance and counselling services available for the trainee teachers during different training courses at their PEK.

Regarding the emphasis on the lecture method, chi-square tests demonstrated a significant difference in the opinions of the respondents according to their position. The directors were about three times more completely satisfied than the vice directors.

In order to further improve the aspect of methodology of teaching and practice at PEKs, about one-third of the respondents suggested that teaching practice should be a compulsory component for all the different kinds of in-service training programmes arranged for primary school teachers. Almost the same majority suggested more emphasis on laboratory work, seminars and projects. Some proposed that all PEKs should be enriched with modern educational technology.

For the time being, PEKs are lacking in the appropriate assessment procedures for participant primary school teachers in the different in-service training programmes. A senior vice director, while criticizing the evaluation process as a whole, comments that “teacher’s evaluation is missing from the Greek education system; and consequently, it can not take place at PEKs”.

About one-third of respondents strongly favoured the existing procedure for the evaluation of in-service training programmes through the completion of a questionnaire. Nearly half partially favoured it, while others strongly disfavoured it. In the preceding items, when the directors and vice directors were asked whether the introduction of a written or oral test might improve the assessment of trainee teachers and the training programmes as a whole, a remarkable majority of about three-quarters were in favour. Almost the same majority had the opinion that the programme efficiency could be improved if the trainers were asked to submit their comments at the end of the in-service training programme.

In order to further improve the evaluation of trainee teachers, a few gave the idea of pre-test and post-test. According to them, the efficiency of the in-service training programmes could be judged and hence improved by comparing the results of the pre-test and post-test given to the participant teachers before and at the end of the training programme. Another respondent suggested that “presentation of lesson should be made in the form of small groups (2-4)”. Another suggested that “evaluatory groups should be organized at each PEK”.

Chi-square results showed that the low-qualified (BA/BEd) and the vice directors were comparatively more of the opinion to introduce a test or interview or to ask trainers to submit a report about the pros and cons of the training programme at the end, than their colleagues possessing higher qualifications (PhD/MEd) and holding the status of a director (Table I).

The respondents, almost in equal proportions, favoured and disfavoured the existing criteria for the selection of trainee primary school teachers based on their teaching experience, previously attended in-service courses and/or lottery system. As regards the placement of trainers at PEKs, all respondents except one were more or less satisfied with the existing situation. However, to further improve the situation a few respondents suggested having a choice of the best trainers.

As regards the existing number (20-30) of trainee primary school teachers in the classroom, all the directors and vice directors were more or less satisfied.

A remarkable majority of more than three-quarters were not satisfied with the existing pace of in-service training courses organized for the supervisory and administrative staff (e.g. head teachers, deputy head teachers etc.) of the primary schools at their PEK. They were interested in special training courses on better management and supervision of schools for these personnel.

A majority of about two-thirds of the directors and vice directors reported that the participant primary teachers were taking keen interest in the various in-service training courses organized for them at their PEK. In order to create more interest and to enhance the participation rate of trainee primary teachers, many proposed that “there should be more moral and financial motives for them (the trainees)”.

Less than half (45 per cent) had the opinion that the existing pace of in-service training courses was meeting the practical needs of the primary schools. The rest either partially agreed (48 per cent) or strongly disagreed (7 per cent) in this regard. The high rate of dissatisfaction was perhaps due to the slow pace of in-service refresher courses. For instance, in the year 1993-94 there were 39,821 primary teachers in the whole country (National Statistical Service of Greece, 1995), and those who got any kind of periodical in-service training were 3,102 (Ministry of Education, 1995a,b,c,d). With this pace, a primary school teacher was required to undergo an in-service training course once in over ten years.

A chi-square test showed a significant difference in the opinions of the directors and vice directors. The latter were about three times less satisfied than the former. This might be due to their being less familiar with the situation of demand and supply of primary school teachers in the country.

As regards the annual allocation of budget to the different PEKs by the Ministry of Education, nearly half of the respondents were not completely satisfied. Therefore, many of the respondents stressed more administrative and financial autonomy of PEKs. According to them, this step will resolve some organizational problems and the scarcity of permanent teaching staff, and consequently the working efficiency at each PEK will be improved.

How far were the trainees and the trainers satisfied with the daily allowance granted to them? About a one-quarter minority was completely satisfied with the extra allowance for the participant primary teachers at the fixed rate of 1,500 drachmas per teaching hour. The rest were either partially satisfied or completely dissatisfied. However, a significant majority of more than three-quarters was more or less satisfied with the extra allowance granted to the trainers/teacher educators at the rate of 5,000 to 10,000 drachmas per teaching hour, depending on their category/position.

One important aspect of in-service training is its nature, duration, and management and control. The respondents have different opinions for the different kinds of in-service training programmes in this regard. All the directors and vice directors were of the opinion that initial in-service training should be compulsory for all the newly appointed primary teachers. Hence all of them favoured the existing situation. For periodical and intensive in-service training programmes, about half and two-thirds respectively suggested that these should be made compulsory. A remarkable majority of more than three-quarters suggested that school-based and distance in-service training programmes should not be compulsory, rather these should be optional in character (Figure 1).

Regarding the duration of different in-service training programmes, the responses also varied significantly. The majority suggested a one-year duration for initial in-service training. Hence the respondents considered that the existing three/four month’s duration for initial in-service training was insufficient. A remarkable majority of about three-quarters were satisfied with the existing eight to ten weeks duration of periodical in-service training. For the intensive in-service training seminars, the majority was in favour of the existing two weeks duration. A great variation (from two to three weeks to five to six months) was found in the opinions of the respondents about the duration for in-school or school-based and distance in-service training programmes.

As regards the management and control of the different kinds of in-service training, the responses of the directors and vice directors varied slightly. For instance, a three-quarters majority suggested that initial and periodical in-service training should be organized and controlled by the local PEK. This means that the majority favoured the existing situation. As regards the intensive in-service training seminars, the majority proposed that these should either be organized by PEKs or pedagogical departments of the universities. A significant majority were of the opinion that school-based or in-school in-service training programmes should be organized and supervised by the school councils. The vice directors favoured this more than their colleagues holding the post of director. This might be because many of them basically belonged to the school cadre, and they preferred to decentralise the in-service training up to school unit level. Regarding the distance in-service training, the majority either favoured the Pedagogical Institute at Athens or PEKs. A few, however, recommended that pedagogical departments of the universities are the most appropriate institutions in this regard.

5. Conclusions

The in-service training of teachers in Greece is still in a transition state. Though the recent decision of the Ministry of Education regarding the establishment of a number of sub-regional in-service training centres under the administrative control of the existing 16 PEKs seems to be an encouraging step, there is still an urgent need for increasing the pace of in-service training courses in all the school subjects. Perhaps it would be rather a difficult task for only PEKs to meet the practical needs of primary schools. The other agencies like school councils and pedagogical departments of the universities have to agree to arrange more short training courses/seminars. In-service training through distance learning may be more fruitful in terms of enhancing the participation rate in the training courses, especially for those who cannot leave their home or school, and for those who are serving in the schools located far from the big cities.

The analysis and interpretation of data revealed that the in-service teacher training systems in Greece seem to be improving gradually. It is perhaps due to this reason that the majority of the directors and vice directors generally showed satisfaction with the different aspects of the existing set-up of in-service training of primary school teachers. They, however, have stressed the increase of funds, modern educational technology and improving the assessment criteria for participant teachers through conducting a written or oral test, as well as asking trainers to submit a report about the pros and cons of the training programme at the end. According to their views, if the new establishment of PEKs is granted sufficient financial and administrative autonomy, the whole in-service teacher training system will rapidly flourish. Summing up the discussion, it is hoped that in the near future PEKs will be out of the experimental stage, and will then run smoothly in order to provide an opportunity for some in-service refresher courses for every primary school teacher at least every three years. It is also hoped that other more flexible provisions of in-service training will be established, such as school-focused training and distance education.

ImageA summary of chi-square results: comparison of opinions of directors and vice directors at PEK by their position and qualification
Table I A summary of chi-square results: comparison of opinions of directors and vice directors at PEK by their position and qualification

ImageSuggestions of directors and vice directors of PEK about the compulsory or non-compulsory nature of different kinds of in-service training programmes for the primary school teachers
Figure 1 Suggestions of directors and vice directors of PEK about the compulsory or non-compulsory nature of different kinds of in-service training programmes for the primary school teachers

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