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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Early childhood and school education funding


3.Funding in education

3.1Early childhood and school education funding

Last update: 27 November 2023


As laid down by the Greek Constitution, education constitutes a fundamental mission of the state and all citizens have the right to education, which is free, at all levels and in all public institutions.

Therefore, the purpose of public financing is the provision of public, free of charge and high quality education for all.

Pre-school education and care in our country is provided by Infant/Child and Child Centres that are financed by the Ministry of Interior through the Municipalities, from the state budget with both national and co-financed resources. 

The resources for Infant/Child & Child Centres are:

  • Grants and any other benefits granted by the State or any Agency, Legal or Natural Person either to the Legal Person of the Infant/Child and Child Centres or through the Local Government Bodies (LGB) on their behalf.
  • The annual regular grant and any special grant of the relevant local government.
  • All kinds of offerings, donations, legacies and bequests Property proceeds.
  • Proceeds from board fees.

For the purposes of allocating such grants, the minimum operating cost of an LGB is taken into consideration, as well as other criteria, such as demographic and geographical ones. With regard to the operating expenses (expenses for building maintenance, heating costs, etc.), the amounts allocated are need-based. The salary expenses of the staff employed at the Municipal Infant/Child and Child Centres is covered by the Ministry of Interior through the Municipalities by means of monthly regular grants.

Furthermore, funding is given through the Public Investment Program (PIP) from national and co-financed resources managed as funding agencies by the Regions of the country. The implemented Regional Operational Programs (RIPs) are co-financed by national and European Community Funds. Actions financed through the EDP relate to infrastructure projects, such as the construction of new buildings or the provision of the necessary equipment, support for preschool and infant care, etc. Also, co-financed resources are available through the Sectoral Programs of the NSRF 2014-2020. There are 13 RDPs in the territory and 7 Sectoral Programs under the Partnership Agreement (FTA) of the country for the period 2014-2020 (NSRF).

Public primary education in Greece is provided free of charge by the state in: Nipiagogeia (pre-schools) and Dimotika scholeia (primary schools) and starts at the age of 4, with attendance in Nipiagogeia (Law 4521/2018).

Secondary education in Greece includes two cycles: compulsory and non-compulsory secondary education.

Compulsory secondary education is provided by gymnasia (lower secondary schools), day and evening.

Non-compulsory secondary education is divided into:

General education offered at lykeia (upper secondary schools): day lykeia and evening lykeia 

Vocational education provided by epangelmatika lykeia - EPAL (vocational upper secondary schools), day or evening.

Both primary and secondary education are funded by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Interior through the Municipalities.

Primary and Secondary Education is financed centrally by the state budget through the Ordinary Budget and the Public Investments Program. Also, centrally, the Computer Technology & Press Institute DIOPHANTUS organises, coordinates and implements the production and distribution process of textbooks in all Public Primary and Secondary Education Schools throughout the country, as well as in Greek Schools abroad under decisions by the Minister for Education and Religious Affairs.  At the same time, the company Building Infrastructure S.A. is responsible for the construction of schools in Attica and the procurement, storage and distribution of equipment for schools (e.g. desks, benches, blackboards etc.) throughout Greece. Moreover, the company constructs school buildings anywhere in Greece following programmatic agreements or similar ministerial decisions, whenever requested.

The 13 implemented Regional Operational Programs (RIPs) are co-financed from national and European Community funds. Actions financed through the EDP relate to infrastructure projects, such as the construction of new buildings or the provision of the necessary equipment, the support of primary education, etc. Also, co-financed resources are available through the 7 Sectoral Programs of the NSRF 2014-2020 the funding agencies of which are the Ministries and the Regions, in the framework of the Partnership Agreement (FTA) of the country for the period 2014-2020 (NSRF).

The School Committees (Scholikes Epitropes) are established at local level. They are municipal legal entities entrusted with the management of appropriations allocated by the Ministry of Interior to cover operational costs in Primary and Secondary Schools. With regard to maintenance and repair expenses for school buildings, the Ministry of Interior distributes funds to municipalities, which in turn, depending on the size of the action undertaken, either manage funds themselves or grant them to the school boards following the decision of the Municipal Council. Resources are, therefore, distributed on need basis. The allocation of funds by the Ministry of Interior to the municipalities is based on the following criteria: the number of classes in school buildings by 30% and the number of pupils by 70%. The funds allocated by the Ministry of Interior for the transfer of pupils are also managed at regional level.

Lastly, it is worth mentioning that the Ministry of Interior directly subsidizes Municipalities of the country, where Lower and Upper Secondary Music and Art Schools operate for boarding pupils.

Financial autonomy and control

Schools in Greece are not autonomous in the following sectors of responsibility:

  1. In the use of public resources for capital expenditure, for any purchases and acquisition of electronic equipment (PCs).
  2. In funds raising and, in particular, sponsorships and donations, the renting of school premises for activities beyond the school schedule and loans.
  3. In the use of private resources for purchasing movable and immovable assets or for recruiting teaching and non-teaching staff.

All of the above are decided at a central level by the supreme educational authorities.

However, in the direction of the autonomy and self-management of primary and secondary schools for the management of the finances of the schools, the operation of School Committees is foreseen, in particular: a school committee for the primary and a school committee for the secondary education. In these two school committees (one or more for each grade) for each municipality, autonomy has been granted in terms of managing the operating expenses of the schools in their area of responsibility.

A board governs school committees. Among its members, a school head must be appointed and at least one representative from the parents' association.

More specifically, the work of each School Committee is:

  • The management of the appropriations allocated to cover the operating costs of schools (heating, lighting, water, telephone, sewer, purchase of consumables etc.).
  • The execution of works for the repair and maintenance of schools and any kind of equipment.
  • To address the respective directorates of Primary and Secondary Education for the procurement of furniture, equipment and books.
  • The management of income from the running of school canteens, etc.

The School Committee’s revenues come from subsidies from Municipalities, school property proceeds, clearances from the exploitation of school canteens and from any kind of contributions, donations, legacies and bequests and any other legitimate source.

The specific amount of funds made available to every school head for meeting the schools’ operational needs are determined by decision of the School Committees.

For the purposes of auditing the financial management of the School Boards, the following books must be necessarily kept:

  • “INCOME - EXPENSE” book.
  • Statement of receipts - payments (in each school).
  • A Receipt booklet.

Within the first 15 days of January, School Heads send the original statements of receipts and payments, together with the respective supporting documents, to the School Committee.

The President of the School Committee submits a copy of the “INCOME - EXPENSES” book to the Management Board of the School Committee by the end of February each year, as well as a brief annual report table for the preceding fiscal year, together with the relevant documents.

Based on the “INCOME - EXPENSES” book and the report table, the Management Board of the School Committee audits the financial management details and decides on its approval by means of a decision thereof, taken by the end of March. The decision of the Management Board of the School Committee is subject to approval by the relevant Municipal Council.

With regard to the budget, stocktaking, the treasury service, loans, the property and the general economic management, the relevant provisions applicable to municipal child and infant /child centres are the same as those applicable to Municipalities. Furthermore, procurements are performed in accordance with the relevant provisions on the procurement of Local Government Bodies, as they apply each time. (Standard Regulation of Operation of Municipal Child and Infant/Child Centers).

Fees within public education

There are no tuition fees in Greek public education. Attendance in Primary Education public schools and Lower and Upper Secondary Education public schools is free of charge and includes the provision of textbooks and any additional material to every pupil.

Municipal Child and Infant/Child Centres (Paidikoi Stathmoi, Vrefonipiakoi Stathmoi) may require nutrition fees on a monthly basis from the families of hosted children, depending on their economic capabilities. The Board of Directors in these centres determines the circumstances for a family to be exempted from this contribution or pay a lower one. 

During registration, children of working parents, children of unemployed or disadvantaged families and preferably, children in need of particular caring for social reasons (i.e. single parent children, of separated parents or having a special needs parent) have priority in selection.

The action "Harmonization of Family and Professional Life 2020-2021" is part of the NSRF 2014-2020 and in particular of the Operational Program "Human Resources Development, Education and Lifelong Learning" (EPANAD). The beneficiary of the operations is the Ministry of Interior and the invitation is addressed to pre- school infant/child and child centres and centres for the creative occupation of children with disabilities (KDAP MEA). The program subsidizes Municipal Child and Infant/Child Centres to provide accommodation for infants, toddlers and children in respective structures. Beneficiaries receive a voucher, which is paid by the Hellenic Society of Local Development and Local Government. The aim of the action is for the beneficiary mothers to facilitate their access to employment and to harmonize family and professional life, by providing childcare services and dependents.

With regard to the selection of the benefiting mothers, family, working and economic criteria are taken into account, which are determined following consultation between the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, and the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece. The Greek Society of Local Development and Local Government GSLDLG S.A. implement the act.

Financial support for learners’ families

There are two types of family allowances provided:

  • an allowance for the under aged child or the student, that is granted by the employer to the employee, paid either in the salary or wage, for any dependent child up to the age of 18 or 19 if they attend Secondary Education. The allowance in question for civil servants amounts to fifty (50) Euros for one (1) child, to a total of seventy (70) Euros for two (2) children, to one hundred and twenty (120) Euros for three (3) children and to a total of one hundred and seventy (170) Euros for four (4) children while being increased by seventy (70) Euros for each additional child.
  • child allowance (law 4512/2018) which takes into account the number of dependent children and depends on the amount of family income. The allowance is granted to any dependent child up to the age of 18 or 19 if they attend Secondary Education. A condition for its grant is that the citizens reside legally and permanently in Greece for the last five years. The Organization of Welfare Benefits & Social Social Solidarity (OPEKA) grants this allowance. Joint Ministerial Decision Γ.Π. οικ.Δ 22/11/2705/58/17.1.2018 regulates all conditions for the granting procedure.

Furthermore, financial assistance to families of pupils also takes the form of facilitating the pupils’ commuting to and from school. Thus, the Regional authorities are responsible for the transfer of public school students living in remote areas (Joint Ministerial Decision 50025/19-9-18), by public transport or by the same means of the Region or the Municipality either through special student cards or by public service contract depending on the kilometre distance of the place of residence- school unit. If the transfer of students is impossible or is deemed financially unprofitable so the students have settled in another residence near their school, solely for attending the school in question, a monthly allowance of € 85 is granted. If the students are transferred under the responsibility of those having the parental responsibility or of the legal guardians thereof, an allowance is granted calculated on the basis of the (single) mileage distance from the place of residence to the school at a rate of €0.35/km for every day the pupil has attended school. This allowance may not exceed € 1500 per student per school year. 

There is also provision for the transportation of pupils of music, art and cross-cultural schools, who carry heavy or large instruments. In these cases, there are no distance restrictions. Further to this, there is provision for the transportation of pupils of primary education when the compulsory course of swimming is carried out. Likewise, refugees and migrants may also be transported to and from accommodation centres or wherever necessary, by local authority vehicles, by decision of the relevant Mayor or Regional Governor. (Law 4445/2016).

In Municipal infant/child and child centres, the transport of children can be done with a means of transport available to the centre. The cost of transporting children is determined by a decision of the Board of Directors of the centre and may be covered with an additional contribution of the parents depending on their financial ability.

Another form of financial support for learners’ families is provided through the Programme “School Meals” (law 4455/2017). The objective of the programme is to cover food and nutrition needs of pupils inside school units of primary education, through contracts for the free supply of school meals. The implementation and monitoring of the programme is under the supervision of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The geographical territories that will benefit from the programme are determined in terms of unemployment rates, population in danger of impoverishment or seclusion. Specifications, evaluation criteria and any other procedure towards implementing the programme are determined by decision of the Minister of Labour. The cost for the actions of the programme is covered either by ordinary budget appropriations of the Ministry of Labour or the national part of the Public Investment Programme.

Finally, according to tax legislation (law 4646/2019) tax reliefs are provided for families with children.

Financial Support for Families of Pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN)

The financial support provided to learners’ families in general, is also applicable to families of SEN pupils.

Furthermore, the transportation of SEN pupils (pupils with special needs) from their place of residence or a specific place of gathering to the school they are attending and vice versa takes place without any kilometre limitations. The afore-mentioned pupils are transported with the means of Municipalities and Regions or, if this is not feasible, by means of a public agreement on the provision of services. If these pupils are transported under the responsibility of those having the parental responsibility or of the legal guardians thereof, an allowance is granted calculated on the basis of the (single) mileage distance from the place of residence to the school at a rate of €0.35/km for every day the pupil has attended school. The annual cap of one thousand and five hundred (1,500) Euros applicable to the rest does not apply to SMEA pupils.

Special education school units provide special support equipment and additional auxiliary material for students with special educational needs, such as special software, appropriate ICT equipment, braille typewriters, wheelchairs, etc., in order to facilitate access to knowledge for students with disabilities (e.g. students with vision problems, with neurological, motor and mental diseases, etc.). Resources of the Public Investment Program of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs cover this expense.

Moreover, hearing aids are provided to pupils of public education (up to the age of 20), as well as to those who attend private schools which provide special education or special vocational training and have hearing problems. The maximum amount for each hearing aid cannot exceed one thousand and five hundred (1,500) Euros.

Financial support for learners

Infants and children of early childhood education and care are entitled to daily provision of the required, in terms of quality and quantity, necessary nutrition. The provided meals include breakfast and lunch.

In the same context, the monitoring of children’s health during their stay in the Municipal infant/child and child centres is an obligation of the institution to which the centre belongs and is operated by a pediatrician, who visits the station every 15 days. In addition, each child has a Health Record that is updated by a pediatrician. He/She also invites the parents to informative gatherings related to children's hygiene issues, at least three times during the school year.

 In Public Primary and Secondary Education, textbooks and additional material are offered free of charge and the transfer cost of pupils from remote areas is covered. Moreover, under specific conditions, free board and accommodation to a limited number of pupils are provided based on socio-economic criteria.

Social support to pupils encompasses scholarships, donations and financial support by various foundations, Natural Persons and Legal Entities of Private Law, to learners and schools of all grades-levels of education. 

According to Law 4186/2013, scholarships or awards may be awarded to pupils of vocational upper secondary schools from the State Scholarship Foundation. For the preparation of the relevant Programs, educational, social and developmental criteria are taken into consideration, such as academic performance, marital status, income and occupational sectors, disciplines and specializations identified as particularly important for the growth of national economy.

All pupils are provided with health care through their parents who are directly insured with a Public Insurance Fund.

Private education

In Greece, Early Childhood Education and Care is also provided in the private pre-school education and care settings (profit-or non-profit-making), as well as in part-time childcare settings for infants or/and children and in integrated care infant/child care centres within the competence of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Joint Ministerial Decision D22/11828/293/4-4-2017). The private Primary and Secondary education Schools that operate in Greece fall under the competence of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.

Supervision and control are exercised through regional administration bodies, as it is done with public schools in every region. Private primary and secondary education schools are run with the same structure and function as the respective public schools, awarding equivalent certificates and adhering to the curriculum in force. The Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs is the competent authority to grant license to Natural Persons and Legal Entities for the establishment of Private Schools.

In Private Schools of every level, tuition fees are paid in exchange for the services provided. The tuition fees for Pre-schools (Nipiagogeia), Primary schools (Dimotika Scholeia), Lower and Upper Secondary Schools (Gymnasia, Lykeia) of Private Education cover the following:

  • Tuition Fees for all compulsory subjects taught in every private school class in compliance with the curriculum of the Ministry of Education
  • Tuition fees for compulsory subjects taught outside mandatory teaching hours and
  • Tuition fees for non-compulsory subjects, educational or other activities and any transportation charges for the transfer of pupils, which is optional.

Should the Private School offer courses for the International Baccalaureat (IB) or should it offer courses in both grades of education, tuition fees are adjusted accordingly. Any tuition fees discount, in case of two brothers or sisters, is decided by the school itself. Health and security benefits are offered, as well as meals, but not family allowances or tax exemptions arising from private school attendance.

The tuition fees applicable each year to the first grade of Pre-school, Primary, Secondary and Upper-secondary Education are determined by private schools and should be publicly announced within January and February of the previous school year. During this period, tuition fees have to be officially announced to the competent body of the Ministry of Development and Investments that posts it on the Ministry’s website. The omission to do so within the above deadline results in having to keep the same tuition fees for the coming school year as in the current year.

However, the tuition fees' increase rate for the next grades of pre-school, primary and secondary education is determined by means of a mathematical formula based on the value change of the general consumer price index, the average teacher salary increase in private education and the maximum increase rate in tuition fees. The average increase rate in teacher salaries is determined each year by May at the latest, by decision of the Ministry of Development and Investments for the current school year. So is the maximum increase rate in tuition fees announced (Law 3377/2005).

With regard to the transportation of pupils to and from the Private School, this is often done by means of school buses owned by the school.