Education reform

The proposals by Thanos Veremis, president of the National Education Council, regarding the national debate on education, have once again underscored concerns that our schools and universities are failing to fulfill their mission. Past studies have reinforced these concerns. The annual report by the Organization for Cooperation and Security (OSCE), which was published recently, gave Greek students very poor marks in mathematics, the physical sciences, and reading comprehension. This is a highly worrying development because the quality of education largely determines not just the amount of a country’s cultural capital but also its economic well-being. Putting money into the labor force is rightly considered as a substantial and profitable investment. The phrase «information society» is on everyone’s lips, yet plans in Greece to bring it about are still on the back burner. Both main parties acknowledge the need for full-scale evaluation across the education pyramid. It is for this reason that Veremis’s proposal is expected to meet resistance from vested interests. A cautious approach would not spur much reaction, nor would Veremis’s other proposal to expel students who have overstayed the length of their degrees. In general, the conditions are ripe for a consensual approach to the education issue. Common consent among the parties would be extremely helpful, as education is a very sensitive sector that should allow no room for authoritarian whims or power games. Each step must be taken after sincere and constructive dialogue so as to avoid unnecessary and potentially harmful squabbling. The advice should not be mistaken as a pretext for delay or inaction – especially at a time when education problems seem to have come to a head. Education reform is more urgent than ever. The conditions for it are in place. The public has mostly freed itself from prejudice and is ready to accept radical changes in the structure and the functioning of schools and universities. The web of small and medium-sized interests, which is a typical roadblock to progress, does not possess the moral and political clout to block a much-needed reform.