Restoring normalcy

Marietta Giannakou wanted to overhaul the country’s education system. But her efforts have resulted in chaos. Whether the proposed reforms were sound or not is besides the point. What people care most about now is stability. Even a bad school is better than no school at all. Sure, there are hardliners who are calling for a head-on conflict with teachers, as if the two sides resembled alien gladiators clashing for our entertainment. No doubt the implementation of government policies cannot hang on the consent of dynamic, yet minority groups. But if the administration really thinks it’s worth pushing the specific reforms it had better get on with civil mobilization instead of wearing itself down in endless skirmishing. It remains to be seen how the government intends to tackle the protesting university and secondary school students. Here lies the heart of the problem. Since the first day of the post-1974 period and because of the Polytechnic uprising, students have enjoyed a unique status in Greek society. The 1982 reform gave students a say in the election of rectors. Some critics have slammed what they see as university administrations held ransom to the students but no one seems willing to ditch some of the «democratic provisions» of the 1982 law passed by the Socialist PASOK when it climbed to power. If higher institutions were fully independent from governments and students, some of Giannakou’s reforms would automatically be redundant. As for the establishment of private universities, it’s an EU decision and Greece can do no more than adapt its Constitution to Brussels regulations. The proposed reforms do not justify the furor that followed. Greece must return to normalcy either by mutual compromise or civic mobilization. Or worse may follow.