Education fails students

As party leaders debated yesterday in Parliament the government’s proposed reforms to tertiary education, a study seen by Kathimerini indicated that there are serious shortcomings in the education that high school students receive. The study was carried out by the Educational Research Center and looked at the answers to exam questions that were given by senior high school students and pupils in their last year of junior high school. Researchers found, for instance, that although students often possessed a wide vocabulary, they did not always display an understanding of the words they used, often using them in the wrong context. An array of grammatical errors was also discovered. More than 41 percent of the students failed to place accents over words, while some 71 percent of those that did use accents tended to use them incorrectly. «Identifying the mistakes will help us investigate the factors in the education process that cause them so we can improve teaching and educational material in the future,» Alkistis Verevi, who is in charge of the study, told Kathimerini. During history tests, many teenagers showed good knowledge of facts and events but two in three were not able to use this information to construct an argument. In physics, almost a third of students did not use the correct units of measurement, 28.5 percent fail to use them consistently and 22.4 percent do not use them at all. Students appear to fair much better in math, where 51.6 percent of the answers given to questions were correct. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis stood by his proposed reforms of the tertiary education sector in Parliament, despite opposition from other leaders. He said the ruling conservatives wanted to give universities greater dependence – which rectors have asked for – while setting up an university ombudsman which will oversee the setting of a maximum limit on the time a student can spend on a degree.