A question of degree

A question of degree

The general secretary at the Education Ministry, Anastasia Gika, recently signed a memo informing educators at Attica’s primary and secondary schools and the region’s high-schoolers about an conference being organized by the National Parents Association on “Modern Education and the Greek Orthodox Tradition.” The memo from Gika, an educator herself, also served to tacitly urge educators and pupils to attend.

The event sparked vehement reactions from some citizens who are opposed to the association, most notably for its participation in the campaign against abortions that recently made the news with a series of posters in Athens metro stations. Education Minister Niki Kermeus’ reaction to Gika’s move was immediate, but unfortunately lacking: She ordered that the memo be recalled, but without explaining the reasons for that decision.

No one can question Kerameus’ commitment and earnestness judging by her performance at the ministry’s helm so far, and these traits are equally evident in her staff. Accusations that she is too conservative and pro-Church are unfair and unfounded, and obviously driven by bias. They are basically sexist. And no one can criticize the minister for earning the praise of Archbishop Ieronymos after re-establishing a religious holiday that had been abolished by a former education minister (Nikos Filis) in 2016 just to spite the clergy.

On the other hand, the bloodthirsty mood of public opinion that makes a habit of attacking every government official – as though the solution to every issue were easy and evident – over every single issue is not an adequate defense for Kerameus against the accusations she faces. Gika’s memo, for example, “was a blatant example of a misplaced decision, bordering on the obtuse,” according to certain ministry officials.

The desire for a successful career can often lead to choices that appear to open channels of communication with a politically diverse audience. After all, everyone is ready to tweak their politics a little bit for the sake of votes. What matters, though, is to what degree, and Kerameus should be more cautious about clearly conveying which side she’s on – or isn’t. She should also do it soon.

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