OPINION

An outsider in the knowledge society

It is common knowledge that Greek schools as well as universities have fallen short of their mission. It is an utter failure, since the level of a country’s education system greatly determines the degree of cultural development as well as its economic prospects. Spending on human capital is the most significant and productive investment a country can make. Talk of the «knowledge-based society» is on everyone’s lips but Greece still suffers blatant and unacceptable deficits in that area. Both mainstream parties have recognized the need for systematic and reliable evaluation across the levels of the education pyramid. This, combined with the radical reform proposals put forward by PASOK leader George Papandreou, had conveyed the impression that the education domain offered some territory for compromise between the Socialists and the conservatives. Education is an extremely sensitive sector and there is no room for a show of power. Nor is there room for negativism or encroachment into anachronistic, counterproductive positions. Education reform is more urgent than ever. After years of laxity and substandard education, the time for change has arrived. Most people have shed their prejudices and appear receptive to major change. Vested interests do not have the moral right or political power to stop the necessary reforms from taking place in education. All this increases disappointment in the opposition’s stand – particularly PASOK’s opportunistic alliance with vested interests, which are unlikely to bring the anticipated benefits. The strike by university staff aims to stop a provision in the coming constitutional revision that will give the green light to the establishment of non-state institutions. But the creation of private universities could act as a springboard by introducing comparison and competition among universities – that is, with the caveat that the government impose strict conditions. Rather than blanket reactionism, the academic community should instead stand up for strict conditions on private institutions and the improvement of the country’s state universities.