Young Greeks are adept at using Internet

Will Greek children be able to board the train of technological convergence with their European counterparts? Will the educational system help school pupils use new technologies to broaden their knowledge in a changing world? And have Greek parents realized that the new illiteracy is technological illiteracy? These are crucial questions in the new society of information technology and multimedia, toward which Greek students have taken halting steps. And what progress they are making is due chiefly to their parents, since the education system is sorely lacking. A report by the European Commission for 2004, which was published in mid-May, shows that Greek students lag behind their European counterparts. Produced by Eurydice, the EU’s educational information network, the report finds that only one in two Greek students (55.3 percent) has a computer at home. That figure is much lower than in the countries of Western Europe (92.5 percent in the Netherlands, 84.9 percent in England, 84.6 percent in Germany, 75.7 percent in France), while some of the new EU members, Slovenia (64.8 percent), the Czech Republic (64.7 percent), Cyprus (60.6 percent) and Hungary (58.3 percent) come in ahead of Greece. Of course, 10-year-olds with a computer at home use it chiefly for games, as is the rule in Europe. However, it is encouraging that Greek children do not limit themselves to fun and games. Much more than their European counterparts of the same age, Greek youngsters (52 percent) write on the computer, while a high proportion (38 percent) of them seek out information on the Internet. This puts Greece in third place after England, with 56 percent, and Italy, with 40 percent. What this demonstrates is that Greek youngsters – though the type of information they look for is not known – have familiarized themselves with searching for information outside of school and are making use of new technologies as a window on to the world. By contrast, comparatively fewer 10-year-old Greeks have become acquainted with the use of e-mail. Sixteen percent of Greeks send and receive e-mail, a percentage half of that for their counterparts in England and Sweden (where the figures are 33 and 32 percent, respectively). Admittedly, the situation in the home is encouraging, if compared with the work done at school. According to the report, only 7.7 percent uses a computer at school once or twice a week as a learning tool, one of the lowest percentages in Western Europe (and ahead of only a few members in Eastern Europe). The English lead with 19.6 percent, followed by the Germans with 17.9 percent. The picture is the same for 15-year-old Greeks. Only 44.7 percent have a computer at home, putting Greece in last place among Western European states. Sweden leads with 94.6 percent, followed by Denmark with 91.2 percent and England with 90.8 percent. Of this 44.7 percent of Greek 15-year-olds, over half (25 percent of the total) have an Internet connection. The situation has improved since Greek pupils have begun to familiarize themselves with the use of the new technology as an educational tool. However, the fact that a little later, at senior high school level, students focus on lessons that will help them to enter tertiary education deprives the students of the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the knowledge that is so important in this new era.