The children (in this case, the largest inner-city junior high school of the area, with students aged 13-15) lock up the school gates with chains and a padlock (which they've bought themselves; they are always gleaming their newness). They hang around the school gates, allowing students in, but keeping teachers out, even in the evening. When teachers are allowed in, it is for a purpose, like for instance, to pick up a document. The teachers hang around in the area, watching from the gates. Most often, they act as if there is nothing unusual about the situation, with laidback smiles on their faces. When the students eventually 'agree' to open up the school for lessons (hey, it's almost time for the school Christmas party, and who wants to be at school over the two-week holiday period?!), it is usually because they got bored. Despite not having lessons, children are expected to 'catch up' on whatever they weren't 'taught', as stipulated in the free Ministry of Education school textbooks that every Greek student receives at the beginning of each school year.
(inner-city junior high school inHania; note the teacher who has just been 'allowed' to depart from the school, and the crowd of students guarding the main school entrance)
Hania is a small picturesque town with mild winter weather. This newly renovated school is situated right next to the Agora, the central market, in a very historic area (you can see the minaret used to call out Moslem praying times during the Ottoman occupation of Hania - pre-1890 - in the background). The school does not reflect the miserable conditions found in most Greek schools as seen in larger centres, nor the misgivings of the Greek education system.
And now, the $64 million question: what are the students staging sit-ins for? Sit-ins are a standard winter feature of Greek schools. There is never a reason; it's simply become a tradition. This year's started off with the shooting of Alexis, as if that was a good reason.