State-approved illiterates

By Nikos Xydakis

A change in wording has succeeded in putting the issue of private universities to rest, an issue which had students up in arms all through last year and which cost a minister her post. In the new draft law to be tabled in Parliament, private universities have now been designated as colleges, and courses at these institutions are termed «informal post-high school studies.» The word university has been formally deleted and all is well and good. Well, not really. The problems of the country's education system cannot be resolved by the founding of private colleges. The 10-15 colleges - or however many are eventually opened - will offer courses that are easy to set up and cheap to run: business management, applied economics, media and communications, that sort of thing. No one is going to open a private technical college, a medical, law or classical studies school. All they will achieve is to turn out graduates hoping to get an equal shot at the civil service entrance exams. The country's biggest problem is the collapse of the public school system: weak middle schools, downgraded high schools and overstretched universities. The high school graduate who has learned his lessons by rote and who has no respect for the institution will never fill the gaps in his overall education and will remain equally illiterate whether he goes to a private college or a state university. He will learn his lessons off by heart, maybe take in a few new things and have photographs taken in his cap and gown before sallying forth into the job market. His reports and letters will be grammatically incorrect, he will speak Greeklish on the job. And none of this will be his fault. The fault will lie with all the hypocrites and cowards who hide from reality and who, instead of finding a cure for the problem, simply propagate this profoundly undemocratic system of producing illiterate graduates with degrees recognized by the Greek state and the European Union.