Many high grades but a lack of basic knowledge in schools

High grades from pupils are common in Greek schools and tend to obscure internal problems, according to a report just published by the Educational Research Center (KEE). Professor Giorgos Stamelos, editor of «The Greek Educational System, Primary and Secondary: Structure and Statistics,» presented the report on May 16. The report is the first step in creating a reliable data bank of information about the Greek educational system to aid discussion and policy planning. Among the problems named are the growing number of pupils who drop out of school and of pupils who have formally graduated but are functionally illiterate. The teacher-pupil ratio in Greece is admirably low by international standards (1:15.4 in primary schools), but there is a high number of teachers on loan from another school system (11.04 percent of appointed staff in primary schools). Stamelos says continual training and retraining for teachers is needed to ensure the quality of Greek education. The ongoing demographic crisis indicated by the statistics in the report may lead to a serious shortage of capable candidates for expanding tertiary educational institutions in the future. The KEE president, Professor Alexis Dimaras, said the report would help the State to evaluate the results of its educational policy and enable educationists to work with detailed data. The second volume of the report will deal with the operation of the educational system and its effectiveness. In 1997-98, 0.53 percent of primary school pupils left school without proper justification, and another 0.54 percent had to repeat a class. Another 3 percent of children of school age do not attend school. High grades As for grades, the high number (52.2 percent) of pupils who received top marks indicates that grading is neither a process of evaluation nor a certification of knowledge acquired. Though 93.97 percent of primary school pupils are promoted to junior high school, 49 percent of junior high school pupils have to repeat the first year. In 1997-98, girls outperformed boys, representing 64.81 percent of grade A pupils at junior high school and 66.64 percent of A grade pupils at senior high. Playing with fire