The mon­u­ment of In­abil­ity

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY MARIA KATSOUNAKI

What’s worse than re­forms which never take place are those that are ac­tu­ally ap­proved, im­ple­mented and then abol­ished af­ter a short pe­riod of time. An ex­am­ple of this is a sys­tem of school fa­cil­i­ties and teach­ing staff eval­u­a­tions that stopped in 2015. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion drew at­ten­tion to this in its Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Mon­i­tor report for 2016. Ac­cord­ing to the report, it was not a good move. The pa­per also re­ferred to other is­sues, such as the rather dis­ap­point­ing per­for­mances of young Greeks at in­ter­na­tional PISA com­pe­ti­tions, the fail­ure of a plan for the over­haul of Greek uni­ver­si­ties, the country’s lag­ging in the use of new tech­nol­ogy, or “dig­i­tal lit­er­acy,” among oth­ers. Abol­ish­ing a re­form which be­gins in a pos­i­tive way, as an im­pe­tus for im­prove­ment sim­ply be­cause it puts out cer­tain peo­ple, re­duces the power and priv­i­leges of oth­ers and is cal­cu­lated as a high cost as far as the po­lit­i­cal sys­tem is con­cerned, even­tu­ally ends up be­ing a dou­ble dis­ser­vice. It demon­strates that the in­abil­ity of a state to con­front any kind of vested in­ter­ests is in­su­per­a­ble. It also points to a country which is un­able to put its gifted peo­ple of many tal­ents to good use – not be­cause it can’t, but be­cause it is un­will­ing. In this way, the dis­cus­sion ends up once again be­ing about why the re­form didn’t take place, as op­posed to how it could have been im­ple­mented in or­der to bet­ter serve pub­lic in­ter­est. In ev­ery re­spect, re­call­ing a de­ci­sion aimed at en­cour­ag­ing progress, tak­ing the next step and ex­cel­lence is even more dam­ag­ing. It’s one thing if it’s ap­proved but never put into prac­tice and quite an­other when ef­forts are made to show it’s work­ing be­fore it’s axed. When some­thing takes off, but is left hanging in midair, like a freeze-frame, it con­trib­utes to the cre­ation of a large-scale In­abil­ity mon­u­ment, to make sure it is vis­i­ble be­yond Greek bor­ders. The on­go­ing sus­pen­sion of achiev­ing any­thing bet­ter or con­stantly re­turn­ing to what has been proven to be worse, when what is fea­si­ble turns into some­thing un­fea­si­ble in just a short pe­riod of time, sends out to so­ci­ety mes­sages of can­cel­la­tion while pro­mot­ing the idea of putting min­i­mum ef­fort into any­thing. Greece’s newly ap­pointed ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter, Costas Gavroglou, re­sponded to the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s crit­i­cism by say­ing that “re­spon­si­bil­ity lies with the first five years of the bailout,” ad­ding, in turn, his own touch to the In­abil­ity mon­u­ment.

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