The award ceremony for the “First of the First” senior high-school graduates from all around Greece took place at the Old Parliament House, on Wednesday April 6, 2016. The event was attended by the President of Greece Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos and was part of the Great Moment for Education Programme established by Eurobank in 2003.
Each year, through the Great Moment for Education programme, Eurobank rewards the top high-school graduates who achieved the best university-entry scores throughout Greece. A total of 63 students ranked at the top in the 2014-15 school year. They were the best of the best among the 845 awarded students who had excelled during the previous school year. In the 13 years of the program, Eurobank has awarded approximately 14,850 top graduates to date, from all over the country. Most of them have been distinguished in the financial, academic and scientific arenas in Greece.
The 63 students were awarded by Greek President Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Eurobank BoD Chairman Mr. Nikolaos Karamouzis and Eurobank CEO Mr. Fokion Karavias.
With the aim of expanding the initiatives for offering essential support to education and new students, Mr. Karamouzis announced before the country’s political leadership the Bank’s intention to create a private, non-profit organization that would fund hundreds of scholarships. These scholarships would be awarded to honors students who wish to pursue postgraduate studies, but cannot afford to do so.
On the part of the Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, Deputy Minister Theodosis Pelegrinis noted in his address, “Today, you are being rewarded for your efforts during your school years, at a time when Greece is hemorrhaging, losing its greatest investment for the future – the thousands of young scientists who are moving abroad. Your challenge? To achieve whatever we, your elders, have not been able to, so that our country can earn the place it deserves in the field of arts and sciences”.
During his speech, Eurobank BoD Chairman Nikolaos Karamouzis appealed to “the business world and the affluent Greeks in Greece and abroad to join forces and fund the hundreds of postgraduate scholarships for honor students who cannot afford it”. He further said “It is a self-evident principle and worthwhile obligation to ensure that honor students from financially weaker families should have equal access to the best possible education, as well as equal opportunities. Such a development would breathe new life into the creative entrepreneurial forces that continue to invest in our country [Greece], while it would constitute a powerful element for maintaining and boosting social cohesion, which has been a key factor for everything that Greece has achieved during the most positive aspects of its history. We must actively demonstrate the increased sense of social responsibility felt by the elite of this country and acknowledge the vital role education effectively plays in bridging social inequalities, boosting social cohesion and offering opportunities for growth to all”.
Referring to the role of education, the Eurobank BoD Chairman highlighted that the course towards long-term sustainable development requires improving the international competitiveness of the country. It also requires investing in knowledge, through the necessary private and public resources that would fund education and better prospects of all children, without exception, offering educational opportunities to all. He further added, “Any type of education that leaves the many behind and only promotes the few is not in tune with a contemporary democratic society, does not create equal opportunities and does not add value to society”. Finally, Mr Karamouzis congratulated the top students for their performance, which demonstrated that “if education is the solution for other countries, for Greece it is a historical obligation”. Upon concluding, he noted, “This day is yours; it deservedly belongs to you, your parents and your teachers. It also belongs to the thousands of our working fellow citizens who, despite the tough, uncertain and grim environment we are living in, have not lost hope for the future of this country, have not abandoned it and are performing beyond their duty and their job daily, doing the best they can, each in their own field. It is you and them who have kept Greece standing today; you are the reason we still hope for normalcy and better future. You have the moral stature to demand that this country changes course and moves towards a future filled with hope, prospects, jobs, and improved prosperity for all”.
On the part of the students, the top-ranked among all, Faidon-Nikolaos Andreadakis, thanked Eurobank for its initiative and urged the students to claim their place in higher education and “challenge themselves so that they advance their thinking even more; not grow complacent with whatever is offered to them and always seek something more”. He concluded by saying “I do not know if this is the best practice to secure higher grades; however, personally, it gave me a motive – and dare I say a thirst – to read, to learn and to think, which is something I will continue in my academic years”.
The event was attended by representatives of the academic and educational community, including Father Thomas Synodinos from the Archbishopric of Athens and All Greece; the Chairman and the CEO of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund, Mr. George Michelis and Mr. Aris Xenofos; the Chairman of the Hellenic Capital Market Commission, Mr. Christos Gotsis; the Chairman of the Athens Exchange, Mr. Iakovos Georganas; Greek Olympic winners in swimming and sailing, Mr. Spyros Gianniotis and Ms. Sofia Bekatorou; representatives of other bodies, Eurobank executives, and family and friends of the honored students.