OPINION

Scorn for a public commodity

Why the school lockouts? I asked a 17-year-old high school student. – Lots of reasons. First of all for fun. What do you mean? – Fun, a good time. People just want a break, to chill out. Aren’t they incited? – Rubbish. But the Communist Party Youth (KNE) has a great deal of influence over the student council. – Yeah, but they can’t incite so many lockouts. What are the demands? – More funds for education, getting rid of the 10/20 pass grade in university entrance exams, appointing more teachers, more books, better buildings. What about Article 16? – Personally I don’t mind private universities. The public ones are terrible anyway. We’ve seen professors buying Porsches with university money. Why get rid of the 10/20 pass mark? – What good is it? They set easy questions, stupid ones, so that every place can be filled. Everyone passes but very few get into the better schools. The teenager’s answers helped me to understand more about the lockouts than all the explanations given by the government, the opposition, unionists and analysts. I understood that the public school system is not just collapsing, but that it has also become the subject of ridicule: a sphere that is empty, devoid of meaning or purpose, that no longer represents the gateway to knowledge, joy or even the job market. I’m not complaining about the illiteracy of the generations to come, not one bit. They will learn their letters somewhere else, in a different way. I am, however, concerned about the shrinking of the public sphere, the criminal negligence and cowardice of the state, the ostrich-like demagoguery of our politicians, the blind individualism of the middle class. Our children come into life learning to scorn a public commodity, one of the most valuable.