OPINION

Bad pupils

That makes one in every four 15-year-old pupils in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Germany and the US perform way below average at school? The money spent on education, intellectual tradition or overall levels of development and prosperity are not the decisive factors, according to a Unicef report on 24 countries. What counts is the educational, social, and economic level of the parents, whether children read outside school and get a solid foundation at preschool. But this does not explain why there are huge differences in performance levels in some schools; for instance there are many poor students in Denmark and Germany, but very few in Finland. When 45 percent of Greek pupils in the first year of senior high school cannot do basic math or read a newspaper advertisement or the drug instruction leaflet, who is to blame? Teachers? Parents? Some aspect of modern society? Not all educational systems have adapted in the same way to the demands of society and rapid technological development, although the common denominators are obedience to the laws of the market and cultivation of fierce competition and individual dominance. Childhood has ceased to be a protected stage in life. Pupils are little adults under constant school, family and social pressure to apply themselves and perform so as to gain acceptance and become integrated into society.