Greek government to send parents to jail for keeping children out of school


The Greek government is set to introduce a bill with punitive consequences for parents and guardians who avoid sending their children to school over pandemic fears.

According to a draft amendment tabled in Parliament by the Greek Ministries of Education and Justice on Tuesday, parents and guardians of students who keep children out of school on the excuse of the pandemic or other reasons will face jail time and fines.

According to the bill, whoever takes care of a minor and does not register the child in school or neglects to ensure the child completes its compulsory education (to grade 9) will be served a jail sentence of up to two years and a fine.


Compulsory education refers to a period of education that is required of all people and is imposed by the government. This education may take place at a registered school or at other places.

Compulsory school attendance or compulsory schooling means that parents are obliged to send their children to a certain school.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights requires, within a reasonable number of years, the principle of compulsory education free of charge for all.

All countries, except Bhutan, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vatican City have compulsory education.

Compulsory school attendance based on the Prussian model gradually spread to other countries. It was quickly adopted by the governments in Denmark-Norway and Sweden, and also in Finland, Estonia and Latvia within the Russian Empire, and later England and Wales and France.

Due to population growth and the proliferation of compulsory education, UNESCO calculated in 2006 that over the subsequent 30 years, more people would receive formal education than in all prior human history.

France was slow to introduce compulsory education, this time due to conflicts between the secular state and the Catholic Church,[20] and as a result between anti-clerical and Catholic political parties. During the July Monarchy, government officials proposed a variety of public primary education provisions, culminating in the Guizot Law of June 28, 1833. The Guizot law mandated that all communes provide education for boys and required that schools implement a curriculum focused on religious and moral instruction. The first set of Jules Ferry Laws, passed in 1881, extended the central government’s role in education well beyond the provisions of the Guizot Law, and made primary education free for girls and boys. In 1882, the second set of Jules Ferry Laws made education compulsory for girls and boys until the age of 13. In 1936, the upper age limit was raised to 14. In 1959, it was further extended to 16.

United States
In 1852, Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to pass a compulsory universal public education law. In particular, the Massachusetts General Court required every town to create and operate a grammar school. Fines were imposed on parents who did not send their children to school, and the government took the power to take children away from their parents and apprentice them to others if government officials decided that the parents were "unfit to have the children educated properly". In 1918, Mississippi became the last state to enact a compulsory attendance law.

In 1922 an attempt was made by the voters of Oregon to enact the Oregon Compulsory Education Act, which would require all children between the ages of 8 and 16 to attend public schools, only leaving exceptions for mentally or physically unfit children, exceeding a certain living distance from a state school, or having written consent from a county superintendent to receive private instruction. The law was passed by popular vote but was later ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, determining that "a child is not a mere creature of the state". This case settled the dispute about whether or not private schools had the right to do business and educate within the United States.

In the Soviet Union, a compulsory education provision law was implemented in 1930. State-provided education during this era was primarily focused on eradicating illiteracy. In line with the overall goals of the regime’s Five Year Plans, the motivation behind education provision and literacy instruction was to ”train a new generation of technically skilled and scientifically literate citizens”. Industrial development needed more skilled workers of all kinds. No possible source of talent could be left untapped, and the only way of meeting these needs was by the rapid development of a planned system of mass education”.[31] Soviet schools “responded to the economic requirements of society” by emphasizing “basic formation in math, and polytechnic knowledge related to economic production”.[32] The Soviet regime’s deliberate expansion of mass education supremacy was what most impressed the U.S. education missions to the USSR in the 1950s.

China's nine-year compulsory education was formally established in 1986 as part of its economic modernization program. It was designed to promote "universalization", the closure of the education gap by economic development and between rural and urban areas by provision of safe and high-quality schools.

The program initially faced shortages due to a huge population and weak economic foundation, but by 1999 primary and junior middle schools respectively served 90% and 85% of the national population.