Education reform

The problem of Greece’s education system has developed into a festering wound. Sporadic reforms have all failed and individual «corrective measures» have created a scrappy system. The allegedly free educational system is shored up by mounting outlays on private coaching colleges, private lessons and private schools. The opening up of tertiary education has led to the existence of universities and colleges of different speeds; some of them producing graduates with no hope of finding jobs. When a month ago Education Minister Marietta Giannakou spoke of the danger of Greek degrees losing value, this newspaper observed that the education problem could not be resolved piecemeal; for example, by imposing 12 years of compulsory schooling or by increasing the number of school exams. We need to revise the education system from kindergarten right through to postgraduate studies, to look at it in the light of new, globalized economic conditions and the importance of technology, which has changed the working landscape. We have to regard it with an emphasis on turning out truly literate people. It is fortunate for the country that the leaders of the two main political parties, the prime minister and the leader of the main opposition, have expressed a clear desire to cooperate in an in-depth study and reform of the education system. A reform that will not be restricted to a re-examination of the university entrance examinations but which will focus on the substance of education, determining what is needed to improve the state tertiary institutions, something that must not be ignored if approval is given for the founding of private universities. Let us not forget, after all, that many of the world’s best universities are state-run. If we want to allow our own universities to enter into profitable agreements with private sponsors, we still have to guarantee high standards. Dialogue and political consensus should not be restricted to tertiary education. Politicians will have to exhaust all possible avenues for cooperation in order to lay the foundations for improving the entire education system, so that state schools can raise their standards and become competitive in order to provide equal opportunities in Greek society. If the debate on education that the government has initiated is to make progress by next summer, everyone must realize that no school is a good school if everyone passes every class, that no university can be of value if it accepts all comers.