ECONOMY

Educational reform

The long-term success of economic reforms greatly depends on whether they are accompanied by changes in education. This is rather self-evident, for economic success presupposes changes in mentality and young people with knowledge and sharpened critical judgement – the necessary equipment of a competitive economy. Besides, the concept of reform is closely intertwined with that of long-term policy: you invest now and expect results in a number of years. It is a sad realization, therefore, that Greek governments, for decades now, have not invested in education as much as they should have. This lack of boldness has been coupled by the lack of any long-term strategy. For a start, Greece’s public spending on education is proportionately much less than that of the more advanced countries in Europe. This year’s education budget, for instance, represents just 3.9 percent of gross domestic product, against a European Union average of 5 percent. More importantly, Greece changes educational systems all the time. Since 1964, there have been at least six major overhauls of the public education system, mainly concerning university and college entrance examinations. Evidently, the frequency of changes does not allow any system to yield results and annuls the idea of reform itself. If we accept that no change was given sufficient time to mature, we conclude that since 1964 there has been no substantial education reform. As the future of enterprises chiefly depends on innovation, governments must substantially increase spending on education, particularly in the primary and tertiary sectors, where Greece lags. At the same time, it has to ensure that curricula are tuned to the future conditions and requirements of the labor market. This would facilitate faster rates in the absorption of degree holders, a reduction in unemployment, a rise in incomes and salaries, and the sharpening of the competitiveness of the Greek economy, with beneficial results in the cost of living and the balance of payments deficit.