[MGSA-L] ATHENA - A plan that does no justice to its name

June Samaras june.samaras at gmail.com
Sat Mar 9 11:25:12 PST 2013


A plan that does no justice to its name

By Nikos Xydakis

The Athena plan for the overhaul of Greece’s tertiary education system
raises a lot of questions and has been cause for some disappointment.
The plan to streamline technical colleges and universities by merging
departments and saving funds has the lofty goal of correcting mistakes
from the past that have dogged the system. It also aims to adapt
education to current needs.

At least this is the objective.

Instead, however, what we are seeing as the plan is gradually unveiled
is that it has been drawn up in a very slipshod manner. It shows an
utter lack of understanding of the current state of the country,
little understanding of the limits of the public’s tolerance and
absolutely no long-term strategic aims.

Almost a month after it was announced, the Athena plan, which had
already been exposed as being full of shortcomings and mistakes, has
been further tweaked to become almost unrecognizable from the original
and, unfortunately, not for the better.

As has been the case over the last 20 years, with some 200
universities, technical colleges and departments appearing in
different parts of the country for no rational reason, so today we are
seeing the same political system slashing 100 departments just as
haphazardly. Under pressure from the country’s international creditors
for more austerity cuts, the plan ignored the needs of students and
their families, and fails completely to come up with ways of improving
the quality of education in the long term. Just as they once allowed
the education system to grow out of control, regardless of the cost,
so today they are hacking away at it without thinking about the

For example, the plan foresees the merger of foreign language and
literature departments that have a long and respectable history as
though they were mere language schools and not university departments
dedicated to the study of foreign cultures. It merges the only
department in Greece that teaches speech therapy with a physiotherapy
department, while abolishing the only place offering studies in folk
and traditional music, at the Technical College of Arta, which has
produced numerous great musicians and teachers and made a significant
contribution to keeping tradition alive. There are many more examples
of such mistakes, some of which completely erase entire areas of

What the government needs to do is slow down and allow more time for a
better plan to be implemented, perhaps in two stages. It doesn’t have
to change the entire registration system this year. It can give
thousands of students who will be affected by the changes a bit more
time to plan for the costly business of moving town or city. It needs
to more time.

ekathimerini.com , Friday March 8, 2013 (20:51)

June Samaras
2020 Old Station Rd
Canada L5M 2V1
Tel : 905-542-1877
E-mail : june.samaras at gmail.com

More information about the MGSA-L mailing list