Debate from scratch

The sudden heat wave has forced students to suspend their series of sit-ins, but if the past is any guide, the protests will resume once summer’s over. The government must brace itself for a fresh wave of protests in September and bear in mind that the sensitive education sector leaves no room for stealth strategies or public politicking. When it comes to expressing their insecurity over career prospects, youths tend to overstep the mark. They are animated by the desire to experience a state of collective intoxication and become «creators» of events. It is this collective existential mode, rather than the reform proposals per se, that has been driving the demonstrations. The education system is sickly and in need of radical overhaul. Conditions have matured as people have shed old mind-sets that sabotaged past reform campaigns. But although the mood was positive, the government somehow managed to score an own goal. Displaying a lack of political sensitivity and foresight, it sparked protests and played into the hands of reactionary forces. Had it not been for this, the vested interests that pull strings at Greece’s universities could not have amassed enough moral and political leverage to stop progress. The dialogue must begin from scratch. It would be foolish if the government insisted on a watered-down version of the draft bill. Any changes must come through open debate and consensus. The aim should be to hammer out a national strategy that is not hampered by short-term political concerns. Greece needs a plan that will break with anachronistic and counterproductive thinking, one that is permeated by a new mentality, and adopt a reliable evaluation system for students and academics alike. A referendum would give the blueprint much-needed political legitimacy.

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