Greek teachers heading down under

first_imgAs Greeks affected by the economic crisis look again to Melbourne for a better life, many making the journey are teachers wishing to apply their experience down under.“It’s tragic the fact that many of the recent Greek migrants hold university degrees and have no other choice but to offer their services abroad.”But without a formal Australian teaching qualification, Greek language teaching appears to be the only immediate option.Manos Tzimpragos, education officer at the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) Language Schools, says that during the past sixteen months they have received about 30 applications.“In the past it was quite common that most of the positions in the schools were covered by people who didn’t necessarily have a teaching qualification, because there was a lack in qualified staff, but nowadays thanks to the influx from Greece we are very lucky to have qualified teachers,” Mr Tzimpragos tells Neos Kosmos.Colleague Maria Bakalidou, coordinator of GCM’s advanced campuses, says that for newcomers, after-hours language schools are the only option available for those holding only a Greek university degree.To be able to teach in Australian schools, teachers must hold a Diploma of Education which takes two years. Ms Bakalidou says most teachers seeking to emigrate are at the high school level.“Before I left Greece three years ago, there was still a high demand for primary school teachers, whereas the public sector was not able to absorb philologists, mathematics, physics teachers … and therefore the latter are more likely to think of migrating.”Vangelis Thanos, a 30-year old pre-school teacher, found himself unemployed after the closure of the private school in Ioannina where he was working. Six months after setting up home in Melbourne, he has already managed to land three jobs in after-hours Greek schools. “What played an important role is the fact that [Greek language teaching] is a discipline for which there is a great demand here. Compared to other newcomers that I’ve met it’s hard to find a job so quickly,” he says.For Despina Tsimitra, 34, leaving Greece was as an escape route from pessimism and misery. As the crisis escalated, she and her husband decided to leave Lesvos and come to Melbourne in early 2013 with their daughter.“I had stopped planning for the future. I couldn’t dream big,” says Mrs Tsimitra. “It’s tragic the fact that many of the recent Greek migrants hold university degrees and have no other choice but to offer their services abroad.”Mrs Tsimitra is a history and archaeology graduate. On her arrival in Australia, she began a diploma which opened the way to a career in children’s service. She also teaches at GCM’s Greek school.“When I first arrived I was looking for something that would make it easier for me to find a job. I don’t think my degree could be used as a qualification by itself somewhere, other than the Greek language school,” Mrs Tsimitra says.With enrolments increasing for GCM’s advanced Greek courses, the organisation has recently established two new campuses. With problems in the ancestral land, learning Greek is now on the rise down under. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more