People who have been observing the developments in education for many decades, and in particular in the area of the effectiveness of education, noticed a big shift after the fall of the junta (1974). This dichotomy became stronger and stronger, and we think that it has recently reached its peak. There is some justification in the reasons that created such a dichotomy: the oppression during the junta repressed free thought and the exercising of political and social rights. It is certain that the reactions towards finding a reasonable balance after this oppressive period were negative, disproportionate and asymmetrical.

Ever since the liberation of Greece and the creation of the modern Greek State in the period leading up to the 1960’s, our educational system succeeded in not only fixing illiteracy, which was predominant in our country, but it also managed to build national conscience among the diversified students attending the Greek public schools. Teachers of all levels were able to harmoniously combine their national duty to educate and guide their students but also to vindicate their professional labour rights. The proper functioning of schools of that time produced positive results which benefitted society in general. The education system produced upright citizens who possessed not only national conscience but also displayed self-constraint in their claims for labour rights. They did not pursue unrestricted claims of “guild” privileges.

After the return of parliamentarism in 1974, a new tendency started to develop, which was aiming to balance the long oppression during the years of dictatorship with a new extreme permissiveness in the performance of duties towards society and towards the state in general. One of these tendencies was the extreme demands of all members of the educational community (both students and teachers of all educational levels). Unfortunately, the politicians of the time, who were mostly interested in being reelected, eagerly legislated many of these unreasonable claims.  With very few exceptions of the rare periods of better governance, the situation kept getting worse as the decades went by. Unfortunately, since the education system breeds a country’s future citizens, many of these tendencies continue to survive today. A small improvement was observed because of the changes that were necessitated during the recent deep economic crisis.

A mark of a cohesive society is the extent of solidarity among its members, particularly the solidarity towards those fellow countrymen that we do not personally know. When solidarity is present, self-centredness and extreme egotism are diminished. The empathy and the capacity for individual growth for everyone who practises solidarity more than compensate for the potential loss of personal interest.

During the first period of the pandemic, solidarity was practised mainly by our health professionals. In unprecedented circumstances, the vast majority of them provided excellent support to the infected patients, who could not enjoy the support of their own relatives due to the nature of the disease. Unfortunately, not all citizens understood why the tackling of the pandemic in our country was so successful. Some groups of professionals and many young people thought that the low numbers of affected persons was not due to the preventive measures enforced by the government and the strict adherence to the thorough action plan, but instead to the low morbidity of the virus. This view held by some citizens led to laxness in complying with the necessary preventive measures and to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases.

Based on the above, we can conclude that unfortunately Greek society has learned to function according to the negative tendencies in our educational system that were formed during the years after the fall of the dictatorship in 1974. Students of all educational levels during that period learned to become extremely relaxed in applying the ideas and complying with the institutional responsibilities that all citizens of cohesive societies have to obey. Many of these students later became teachers in the public education system and they made the laxity that already existed in the education system even worse. This kind of mentality led to the high external indebtedness of the country for many years, the scandal of the Stock Exchange (1999) and the scandal of the Structured Bonds (2005). Irresponsible and damaging behaviours such as these caused the inflation of the already high national debt, which unfortunately will have to be paid by our descendants, the young people of the present and the next generations. The current reaction of the youth to the restrictions, which are enforced so that the pandemic does not spread further, is just another example of the slackness that our young people have been accustomed to. It is also a reaction to the national debt that has been transferred to them by the previous generations. However, this kind of reaction is not constructive and does not solve any of the current problems; instead it only makes societal impasses even worse…

Our country needs reorientation. We believe that our society needs to be redirected, and that solidarity is the only effective way. Of course, this kind of reorientation has to start at the base – at our education system…

                                                                                                                                                THE EDITORIAL BOARD