Myopic planners

It’s common knowledge that Greece’s universities have failed to live up to their mission; any exceptions only confirm the rule. It’s a crucial failure because the quality of an education system has a direct impact on a nation’s cultural and economic performance. Human capital is the most profitable target of investment. But although talk of the information society is on everyone’s lips, Greece suffers from an unacceptable deficit in that respect. Education reform is more urgent than ever. Conditions have changed. The public has shed most of its earlier prejudices and seems ready to sanction radical changes. The government must respect an open political process in order to build consensus behind a radical national education strategy that will break with past practices and mentalities and introduce a reliable evaluation mechanism for students and faculty alike. Initial attempts to launch a nationwide debate on education reforms soon faltered. They did not grasp the signals from the other side; they handled the issue with the arrogance of power and the all-too familiar petty political cunning. Yet education is a sensitive sector that must be treated in an open manner. Students have a tendency to vent their anger and insecurity about their future, and often cross the line. They often feel the need to experience the unique sense of collective intoxication and become creators of events. The lack of political sensitivity and vision resulted in the escalation of protests and paralysis at universities, eventually forcing Education Minister Marietta Giannakou to back down. The network of vested interests does not have the moral and political leverage to prevent necessary change. If it succeeds, it will be thanks to help from the Education Ministry.

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