OPINION

Joining hands on education reform

The public and unreserved acknowledgment by both conservative Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Socialist opposition leader George Papandreou of the need for a common platform to tackle the chronic problems plaguing our national education system is itself a sign of significant progress. Most people realize that education quality is the main factor that determines a nation’s role in the global division of labor and, by extension, its standing in the international community. And it is common knowledge that our public schools and universities have failed to live up to their mission. Greek university degrees carry little weight abroad. Hence, a radical education reform plan is urgently called for; one that will be backed by the greatest possible number of parties across the left-right spectrum. Any measures must affect all education levels and should not be limited to specific elements such as the examination system for university entrance. The Greek education system is dysfunctional throughout, from primary school to postgraduate studies. Thus any changes must be part of a long-term plan hammered out independently of politically expedient objectives. We should keep in mind that the reforms taken so far by various governments have either been ineffectual or ended up in miserable failure, often throwing the academic community into ever deeper confusion. As a consequence of these circumstances, our youth – the most intelligent and dynamic section of society, who have high academic expectations – feel deep disappointment and insecurity about their future. We must welcome the fact that the government and the opposition have joined hands on education reform. Their close cooperation on this issue has been a strong public demand. People expect political parties to promote the national interest. Investing in manpower is the most productive thing a society can engage in. Unfortunately, in terms of promoting the information society, Greece is a backwater. It’s time for a truly comprehensive education reform.