By Mehmet Hatipoglu
XANTHI, Greece (AA) - Parents and students of a Turkish minority school in Greece on Monday protested a move splitting up the school day into two shifts due to inadequate classroom space.
Some 2,000 protesters, according to local media, at the Xanthi (Iskece) Muzaffer Salihoglu Secondary-High School also included lawmakers, religious leaders, and mayors.
Xanthi is in Western Thrace, a region of Greece home to a Turkish-Muslim minority numbering around 150,000. The minority also has Turkish-Greek bilingual minority schools.
The protesters held posters in Turkish and Greek saying “We want a school not a prison," "Emergency solution for the building problem," and "740 lives are equal to how many square meters?"
As part of the protest, the students boycotted classes and blocked teachers from entering the building, and then marched to the East Macedonia and Thrace State Governorship Xanthi Representation Office.
There they met with Nicos Efremidis, the deputy state governor, and told him their demands.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Erhan Huseyin, head of the local school board, said the morning/afternoon shift system was introduced due to a rising number of students, stressing that a better solution is needed.
Huseyin said both students and parents oppose the two-shift system.
"We demand the installation of temporary prefabricated classrooms, until a new school is built, which is our real need," he stressed.
Huseyin said a school in Athens faced a similar problem but it was solved by installing prefab classrooms.
Due to limited space and classrooms, Turkish minority secondary and high schools in the cities of Komotini (Gumulcine) and Xanthi (Iskece) have trouble enrolling all the local students there, and the people have asked for new minority schools.
But the Greek state has ignored the public demands and instead introduced the morning/afternoon shift system.
* Writing and contribution by Fatih Hafiz Mehmet in Ankara