OPINION

Rediscovering inequality

Although it is somewhat late in the day, we should begin to ask ourselves whether the electorate voted for Prime Minister Costas Simitis to govern the country in order to silently demolish what the PASOK of Andreas Papandreou had triumphantly announced it would build. And naturally, we should ask ourselves if this choice is an expression of faith or the voice of repentance. One of the first things PASOK did when it came to power in 1981 was to close all the country’s model and experimental schools in order to abolish what they termed inequality in education. In the name of underprivileged Greeks, Andreas Papandreou’s party proclaimed that school pupils should not be divided into «bright» and «mediocre,» just as there were no good or bad employees, hardworking or lazy workers, successful or unsuccessful business owners. The principle of non-existent and unnatural equality was to be achieved by taking everything down to the same level, whether in education, civil administration, the economy or society. This tendency lasted for about 25 years, clipping the wings of an entire generation of Greeks. Only then did Papandreou’s successors begin to discover that inequality is a natural and perpetual state of affairs. They gradually began to talk about incentives and bonuses, healthy rivalry at work and in education, about rewards for the gifted, naturally at the expense of the mediocre. As PASOK believed for 25 years that social inequality began with «educational discrimination,» it began its leveling-out process in the schools. It was reported that at a meeting this week between the prime minister and the education minister, it was decided to set up special classes for gifted school pupils. Just as PASOK took 25 years to realize the need to establish schools for more advanced pupils, there is now bound to be malicious talk about «backward» politicians.