OPINION

The education debate

The debate about education that political parties embarked upon last Friday created a stir while also raising the hopes of those inclined to believe that something positive can emerge from the cooperation of rival factions on a matter of universal interest. There are countless university professors – more than qualified to form a substantiated opinion – who are either genuinely concerned about the goals of the education sector or are trying to consolidate their place in the current system. But for the person who has some grasp of the situation, there is a clear distinction between education as an attempt to shape the citizen of a particular country and the skills offered by the range of educational institutions keeping their eye on shifting economic trends. In opposition to the provision of certain skills, which is generally based on an assessment of the market, education presupposes the existence of a central ideological approach by the state, a clear grasp of the role and mission of the nation. Education has no concrete effect on production. But without a fundamental sense of what education should comprise, one cannot talk about a responsible citizen of any particular country. In the current situation, the two main political parties, which shape the social framework within which Greek citizens live, should make it a priority to clarify whether they regard the European Union as a melting pot for the various member states or as a system for preserving various European traditions – national, linguistic and Christian. If they deem that the EU is not a melting pot, then they should highlight elements of the Greek nation – ancient Greek, Byzantine and contemporary – as factors that can positively contribute to the European system. It goes without saying that an obsession with preserving elements of «Greekness,» irrespective of the prevailing climate, merely creates a quaint, outdated image of the country. On the other hand, not cultivating these elements ensures that the country remains an amorphous mass, vulnerable to outside influences, lacking any creative core and doomed to extinction. It is chiefly the government’s responsibility to establish a fundamental direction in matters of education, especially in view of the fact that Greece lacks an established intelligentsia concerned with the country’s cultural course, with the exception of a few individuals. It would be most encouraging if the new debate also focused on the content of education, on the direction it must take to shape the modern Greek citizen. And representatives of our cultural world should also be involved in this debate…