For years, there have been discussions, interventions, and clashes over the need to finally draft a national plan for the reorganisation of the education system.
In word, everyone recognises that substantial changes are needed, but the latest ‘reform’ is a shoddy, pr-electoral change of the system of nationwide university entrance exams (Panelladikes).
It seems that every education minister believes that it is his or her duty to make some cosmetic changes, which usually create more problems than they supposedly attempt to solve.
So, too, the reform of Education Minister Kostas Gavroglu, which was announced yesterday, does not put high school (lykeio) education on a new footing, but actually downgrades it even more.
Essentially, it limits the educational offering – including the elimination of courses such as Latin – and in fact transforms the third and last year of high school into a tutoring school for those who want to compete for a place in the “good” university faculties, while the rest of the students who want to be admitted to faculties with less competition for admission become second-class students.
The tragic thing is that no systematic dialogue on the changes was conducted. The views of university faculties were ignored, so that Mr. Gavroglu could pretend that there will be no entrance exams for faculties for which there is low demand, and which interest only those students who want to gain a degree without value.
It is odd that the current minister completely ignored the report that his predecessor had grandly announced. It included the proposals of the Committee on the National and Social Dialogue on Education, headed by Professor Antonis Liakos, which Mr. Gavroglu threw into the trash bin.
That committee had concluded that the three-year high school, in its current form, is dysfunctional.
It proposed a four-year junior high school (gymnasio) and a two-year high school, with a trustworthy degree, which would not be linked to university entrance exams. A national high school degree would be established, with exams in the subjects taught in the last two years. It also afforded the opportunity for students to choose courses and research projects.
Instead of that, the minister chose to implement a variation of the current system, similar to the older system, in which students chose bundles of courses with a broader subject orientation (science, humanities, and so forth), which changes nothing in high schools – not even the educational process.
It is yet another opportunistic and vote-mongering change, which does not solve the problems in high schools.
Even worse, it creates first-class and second-class students.