Poor marks for education

Every year around this time, the announcement of university entrance grades paves the way for a new wave of entrants into our higher education system. Their journey often leads nowhere, however; not just when it comes to acquiring a profession, but even as regards the cultivation of knowledge. It is commonly known, after all, that neither our schools nor universities fulfill their mission adequately. The rare exceptions only prove the rule. The matter is crucial, since the quality of education largely determines a country’s level of cultural development as well as its economic capability. Investment in human potential is widely considered the most important and productive of all. Yet in Greece the education system has no solid internal logic, it makes insufficient use of modern technology, and it does not cultivate things like judgment and independent thinking among pupils and students. Everyone talks about the information society, but little is done to bring it about. The fact is that we are champions at producing semi-literate graduates. Especially in large faculties, students can get a degree with little study. That does not bother anyone, because of the prevailing perception that a degree is a passport to a profession. But the Greek economy can no longer absorb the high number of university and technical college graduates. Restricting the number of university entrants is clearly not a solution, but degrees should be given only to those who deserve them. This is why radical reform is needed, beyond the changes in entrance exams of past decades. Conditions are ripe for such a policy leap that will establish a new mentality, introduce curriculum changes and create a reliable mechanism to assess teachers and students at all levels. Public opinion has largely shed its prejudices and is ready to accept daring changes.