University told Argyris Koumtzis, who is blind, that he cannot study physics because 30% of the course involves laboratory work which students are required to conduct themselves
Argyris Koumtzis speaks to Mega TV (Screengrab) The education ministry has ordered that a university staff member accompany a student to laboratory classes at Thesssaloniki’s Aristotle University, which had insisted that it could not enrol the top-marks student on the basis that he is blind.
In February, Argyris Koumtzis, who applied to study physics at the university in his native city, was informed by the head of the department that, as 30% of the course involves laboratory work which students are required to conduct themselves, they could not accept him. The head of the physics department, Prof Konstantinos Chrissafis, explained that it did not accept applications from students who were totally blind or from people where were disabled in the upper limbs.
The department has refused to budge from its position, despite the fact that similar departments in other universities have no such restrictions on people with disabilities.
On Monday, Education Minister Andreas Loverdos ordered that a university staff member accompany Koumtzis to lab classes until a long-term solution was found for him and others in a similar position. He also wrote to all university and technical university rectors asking them to lift regulations that violate the principle of equal access to higher education.
Loverdos’ predecessor already ordered a review of third-level admission procedures for people with disability in February. Whether that survey was ever conducted is not clear.
Meanwhile, the education ministry announced that Chinese will be taught in a number of secondary schools on a pilot basis in the coming academic year, following an agreement on Monday between the deputy education minister, Alexandros Dermentzopoulos, and Yang Xiuquin of the Confucius Institute, which supports Chinese language and culture around the world.
China will provide 21 teachers to teach the language in nine experimental secondary schools, known in Greek as piramatika, from October. Students will be offered two hours a week in the language, outside normal school hours.