Phony education

For most Greek pupils, senior high schools wrap up their academic year on March 25. After that date, few second- and third-year senior high pupils attend the remaining classes. It’s not that they play truant to enjoy springtime, or that they are hit by some sort of hay fever. They merely chose to stay home and start revising in view of the coming examinations, or to attend their cramming courses rather than their schools, be they private or state ones. Over the previous months, they would attend classes even if they were ill so that they would not reduce the number of permitted absences. What’s more, parents and teachers know these children are skipping classes. The majority of parents actually condone this tactic while many teachers, aware of what pupils must put up with, often choose to turn a blind eye and do not mark them absent. There could be no better proof that schools have been defeated by the more «effective» results (in the sense of producing better grades) provided by cramming schools. Formal education, which purportedly teaches children to read and write, is discredited with the consent, or at least embarrassed silence, of schoolteachers themselves. The education system may have undergone successive reforms, but we have never ceased showing our children, in all kinds of ways, that their whole lives depend on one or two chances. And no more. And now that they have to sit an examination with the ingrained belief that they are playing fast and loose with their future, we advise them, almost sadistically, to shake off their angst and keep their cool. What we mean is that they must act in the same cool-headed fashion as the education authorities of PASOK and New Democracy, who found the most appropriate timing – just ahead of the national examinations – to clash over whose reforms have done education the greatest harm.