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Blind student barred from university finds justice

The ministry of education has intervened to make true the dreams of gifted blind student seeking entrance to Thessaloniki University.

The intervention constitutes a major victory for Greek persons with disabilities. Argyris Koumtzis was turned down by the Physics department of the university on the argument that 30% of all lessons entail laboratory work and this would be hazardous or impossible to do. However, other universities allow disabled, including, blind students access to their physics faculties.

The education ministry intervened , as it also decided to reevaluate the way disabled students are accepted to tertiary education institutions. So far there is no uniform system, resulting in each institution adopting its own regulations. Now uniform criteria will be institutionalized for the assessment of each disabled student.

The 18 year old Argyris was adamant and had no intention of giving up, even if it meant migrating to another city where the relevant school would allow him entry.

Argyris has been a straight A student throughout high school and has excelled in Greek Mathematical Society and Union of Greek Physicists student competitions, as well as in chess tournaments but was not even allowed to fill out in an application. The Panhellenic Association of the Blind stepped in to denounce the decision describing it as unconstitutional and supporting that there are no such provisions in other universities in Greece.

In describing the ministry's decision, deputy education minister Kostas Gioulekas said that the justice of the student's case was very obvious, adding that “such things cannot happen in universities.” He also stressed that the ministry would examine the matter when the minister, Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos returns to Athens from his mission abroad, in order to end “the young man's Odyssey.”

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