Greece’s economy will not take off without radical education reforms

It is generally recognized that development of human capital in Greece as a crucial factor of production is inadequate in supporting the country’s economy in this age of competition, technology and information; this is ultimately reflected in the growing problems with the current account balance, caused by the loss of productivity and deteriorating terms of trade. Greek exports, for instance, are continuously losing ground in the sectors of new technology and, recently, have given way to an influx of imports. And the education system is clearly wanting. It is impossible to see how this handicap can be overcome without a radical change in the education system that will bring it into line with those of other EU members. It is encouraging that the main opposition New Democracy party’s recent proposals for reform opened some sort of exchange of ideas on the subject, even though still in the traditional mode of political acrimony; the issue of education is cardinal for the survival of the Greek economy, without upheavals and soaring unemployment in the 25-member Europe. In today’s globalized economic reality, a country’s growth prospects depend less on its geographical position, natural resources and other physical factors, and more on its people’s acquired productive skills at all levels. But in Greece the level of services which the public education system offers is clearly below expectations and accepted standards in the developed world; this concerns both secondary and tertiary education, and the inadequacy is confirmed by the thriving «auxiliary» sector of private tuition schools, which tutor virtually all candidates for university entry. Greece is a mass importer of foreign education services, but most foreign institutions which open branches are mediocre at best, another reflection of the malaise. But the meager amounts spent on education and research (also reflected by the extremely low number of patents) and invested in technology speak volumes.

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