OPINION

Vacant minds

Greece’s education system has been in crisis, much in the manner of the naked emperor: Everyone could see the crisis was coming, but no one pointed a finger. It was only after the government introduced a minimum pass grade that we pretended to notice the bareness of our education system. What we saw was 15,384 vacancies in tertiary institutions, and universities divided into numerous departments across the country for the sake of local real estate agencies and coffeshop owners. And yet we still shy away from the more important issues here: the decline in knowledge and cultural capital, the waste of skill and talent, the spread of false knowledge, the almost sadistic exhaustion of families. On Sunday, the head of the Pedagogic Institute in Athens, Dimitris Vlachos, pointed out another major failure – that of secondary education. The senior high school has become a hotbed for half-baked, stressed pupils aiming to squeeze their way into one of Greece’s tertiary institutions. This inhuman system – also with the help of private tuition centers – encourages the creation of one-dimensional students. University professors tend to describe first-year students as «mental cripples» who need to be taught the basics from scratch. The education system has since the 1990s, if not earlier, been stripped of all sense of vision and direction. The only consistent program has been the one setting up departments which offer exotic specializations with no career prospects. Poor, inconsistent and flawed, our education policy has been reduced to a lifeless mish-mash consisting of political self-interest and public expectation – served with a weak and directionless production base. The failure of our education policy is a political failure to lead the country into the future and, above all, a failure to grasp the significance of knowledge capital today.