Greece’s education system adrift

The Greek education system is ailing, and the signs are visible at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Attempts by the Education Ministry to correct the reforms originally meant to correct shortcomings have only served to highlight the administrative deficit. The shortage of books and teachers in primary and secondary schools, two months after the school year has begun, sparked off protests by parents throughout the country and is only one of the problems. Greece is in last place in Europe with respect to the introduction of new technology into schools, with only 22 percent of primary schools and 56 percent of secondary schools having Internet access. Spain leads Greece with 57 and 78 percent, respectively. The much-bruited education reform has led to an overemphasis on examinations at schools, whose students then flock to private tuition colleges – on which Greek parents spend huge sums – in order to prepare for them. At the same time, more pupils are drifting toward the despised technical high schools (TEEs) or into the labor market (especially in tourist areas). Instead of being upgraded, TEEs are suffering from plunging standards. Despite teaching dozens of specialized subjects, as listed in their curriculum, they have neither the books nor the teachers for them. The proposed upgrading of technical colleges (TEIs) to university status has caused an uproar, with both university and college lecturers threatening legal action over provisions which affect them, and has made the evaluation of colleges a bone of contention. Student and lecturer reactions have disrupted academic functioning and research has been brought to a standstill. In an interview yesterday with the Brussels daily La Libre Belgique, he said «The charges against Milosevic are extremely weak.» He also countered del Ponte, who accused the Yugoslav government of harboring the Bosnian Serbs’ wartime commander Gen. Ratko Mladic, indicted for genocide. «To my knowledge he is not in our country,» said Kostunica. Until now, the department has examined degree-holders’ applications by carrying out a comparison of the curriculum completed. «Those studies which are not taught at a higher education institute are not recognized. A graduate who began his studies at a Greek EES is regarded as having two non-existent years of study, as far as the committee which examines the applications is concerned,» the director of the department, Despoina Andritsou, told Kathimerini. The leadership in Montenegro, which with Serbia makes up the Yugoslav federation, is determined to declare independence while Kostunica wants a federal structure in which some key policies, including foreign affairs, finance and defense, are run jointly.

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