NEWS

Paying for help at elementary level

While private tuition establishments flourish, supplementary teaching at schools languishes because pupils shun it. «Attendance at supplementary classes is minimal,» Georgas said. «Of 20 pupils in the second and third year of senior high school, only three attend the school’s public coaching sessions.» School has become a formality for many pupils, and teachers tend to acquire a purely ornamental role. «Half the children are totally indifferent. Besides, coaching colleges are usually further ahead with the syllabus, and pupils find what they hear at school boring. Quite a few complain that they have already heard what we teach them at their coaching college,» noted Georgas. He believes that coaching colleges will continue to exist as long as there are exams, because «parents are so anxious to get their children into university and they think they can only succeed by going to coaching college. They feel more secure and think that by giving their children that extra help they have done their duty.» It seems the idea of extra tuition is so deeply ingrained in the Greek mentality that even elementary school pupils have started attending local centers, Georgas explained. These are new types of tuition center where teachers and students assist the children with their homework, which working parents no longer have time to do. Would abolishing exams put an end to all this unofficial education? «Of course not,» said Georgas. He proposes an modern exam system to beat rote learning. He calls for radical, overall change at schools with new, detailed syllabuses, from the first year of primary school to the last year of senior high. He recommends open-book exams where pupils have to express their views after broadening their knowledge through wide reading. Finally, Georgas firmly believes that pupils, especially at the elementary school level, should do all their work at school so that when they go home they have free time to play, which he considers crucial.