JCEPS:Vol. 1 No. 1 (March 2003)

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From socialist - democratic to “Third Way” politics and rhetoric in Greek education (1997 - 2002)

Georgios Grollios
Ioannis Kaskaris

Department of Primary Education, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Primary School at the Department of Primary Education - Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

Citation information

URL: <http://www.jceps.com/?pageID=article&articleID=4>
author:Georgios Grollios
Ioannis Kaskaris
Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies
Volume 1, Number 1 (March 2003)
ISSN 1740-2743

Abstract

The paper critically examines the ideological turn occurred in Greek educational policy from a socialist-democratic platform to the reception and espousal of ‘third way’ politics. We consider such a turn as an effort to maintain the dominant realization of education in the current socio-economic rearrangements. This effort in Greek education has been accomplished in two ways: (i). The implementation of institutional changes, thus, transforming the Greek education system, and, (ii). The ideological support in the course of a theoretical eclecticism, where neo-conservative principles and post-modern positions are merging, abolishing hence any significance in terms of the social foundation of education. We suggest that in order to address an oppositional critique we should demonstrate the ways that the theoretical endorsements of the current neo-liberal crystallisations in education accommodate particular political decisions.

Keywords: education policy, “Third Way” politics, Neo-Liberalism, ideology, hegemony, class struggle


Introduction

The hegemony of the neoliberal-neoconservative policies can be examined as an international occurrence during the 1980s and the 1990s. The preparation of the conditions that led to the consolidation of such a hegemony has been a complex process, including differentiations in the qualitative attributes, the rhythms and forms in which these policies have been implemented, as well as the social and political agents involved.

Here, we shall study the advancement and the implementation of the neoliberal-neoconservative rearrangements in Greek education focusing our interest on the education policy of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), the political party in power for the 18 out of the last twenty-one years (1981 - 1990, 1993 - 2002). Our analysis could contribute towards comprehending the present international socio-political and economic conjuncture that is closely associated with the concrete arrangement of the power relationships in every social formation and the existing social, ideological and political conflicts.

The early abandonment of a radical rhetoric by PASOK and its withdrawal from a social-democratic educational policy in favour of certain versions of neoliberal and neoconservative ideological postulations, did not take place in social void. We shall try to trace the affinities between the various modifications of education policies by PASOK and the social struggles in/for education. Moreover, we shall try to show that the social-democratic politics and rhetoric of PASOK have been substituted by a version of “Third Way” politics and rhetoric thus empowering the neoliberal-neoconservative hegemony in Greek education.

Rhetoric and practice in PASOK’s education policies - an overview (1977 - 1990).

To sketch the picture of the modifications in the theory, politics and practice of PASOK we shall demonstrate the differences between its two political programmes, the first written in 1977 and the second in 1981, both of which were published a short period before the two national election days respectively. In the elections of 1977, PASOK obtained 25% of the votes, almost doubling its percentage in the 1974 elections which were held just three months after the fall of the military dictatorship. In the 1981 elections, PASOK gathered 48% of the votes thus capable of forming an autonomous government after a seven year rule of the right wing party (New Democracy). The rapid increase of PASOK in the elections was the result of a process sustained by the turn towards political radicalism, apparent on the aftermath of the dictatorship and pertinent to the struggles where a broad spectrum of popular social classes and groups participated till 1981 (Sakellaropoulos, 2001, pp. 58-79).

The political programme of PASOK in 1977 was characterised by a radical rhetoric. Its central slogan was “Change”. The reference to such a general term was regarded as a new course for the Greek society endorsing national independence, popular sovereignity and social emancipation. “Change” signified the expansion and amplification of the democratic institutions and the establishment of democratic economic operations which, nevertheless, did not mean &#laquo;in any way a revolutionary upheaval or the apt and urgent pursue of aims which could not be regarded as public objectives&#raquo; (PASOK, 1977, p. 29).

Despite the vague content of “Change”, this political programme was characterized by some clear and concrete radical intents posed. For instance, in the programme it was suggested that in order to protect and keep up with “Change” (from the efforts of the local and foreign oligarchy to undermine it), PASOK should advance major “socialisations” in the banks, the insurance institutions, the energy sector, the main companies at the imports and exports commerce, the mine companies and the shipyards. In other words, PASOK proposed the “socialisation” of those corporations and enterprises which were vital for the economic development. Moreover, “socialisation” meant the introduction of self-management within the frameworks of a general democratic programme. These intents reflected a rhetoric based upon radical principles of national liberation and socialist movements which flourished during the post-war period and upon variants of theoretical ramifications brought up by the “School of Dependence” [1] .

The 1981 political programme was still inspired by the general rhetoric around the policies necessary to advance and elevate “Change”. Nonetheless, withdrawal from the 1977 positions concerning economic politics was obvious and explicit. The new governmental programme was named “Contract with the People”. It included “socialisation” only for the banks and the mine companies which, followed by a number of political and legislative actions, would promote productive investments by raising the consumerist power of the popular social classes (PASOK, 1981a, pp. 57-70).

The political programmes of 1977 and 1981 included appraisals of the role of education. According to the 1977 programme, &#laquo;education in a bourgeois system has a particular function to transmit the ideology of the ruling class, to reproduce the distinctions and the norms of behaviour in capitalism, to create and appropriate the scientific and technical human resources to boost performance and efficiency of the profit and exploitation mechanisms. (...) Education corresponds and contributes towards the conservation and sustenance of the system despite the superfluous claims on its neutral character &#raquo; (PASOK, 1977, p. 131).

In the programme of 1981, education was not defined with reference to social formation (capitalism) but instead with reference to the concept of nation: &#laquo;As for education, which is a national endeavour and fundamental for the course of the Nation in history, nothing can suffice. Education, that is the whole of the spiritual undertaking of the People, contains the spiritual conquests made throughout the historical progress of the Nation. For us [PASOK] education is the very foundation of Change&#raquo; (PASOK, 1981a, p. 49). The shift of the theoretical responses to the question: “what is education?”, was clear. In other words, there was a shift in the direction of a post-war reformist social-democratic programme which in general does not intend to transform the productive/social capitalist relations or establish forms of popular classes democracy but instead seeks to organize a welfare state and a consensus among social classes in favour of the so called “national progress”.

The 1977 programme included obligatory attendance of nursery education, a nine-year common/comprehensive school and a comprehensive three-year upper secondary education (the “Lyceum”) with two equivalent branches, one for general and another for technical education. In the 1981 programme, though:

nursery education was not defined as obligatory;
there was no provision for a common/comprehensive nine-year school but an obligatory nine-year attendance comprised by an initial period of six years in elementary school and a consequent period of three years in “Gymnasium”, located at the lower level of secondary education and
the dinstiction between general and technical education was shaped by introducing the separate and parallel operation of general, comprehensive and technical schools at the upper level of secondary education.

In other words, in the 1981 progeramme, the preservation of horizontal and vertical divisions prevailed against the logic of a common and comprehensive education for all (intended in the 1977 political programme). The shift towards reformist social-democratic politics was evident in many other respects. For example, in the 1981 programme, former claims to finance education with 15% of the National Budget were abandoned (an aim charged with great political significance through the history of the student movement in Greece). Moreover, many references, clear in the 1977 programme, relating to a pedagogy that would not accustom children to obedience, firm hierarchies, authoritative administration and uncritical discipline were diminished in PASOK’s 1981 programme.

Another element abolished was the possibility to use and employ multiple books (for the teaching of one subject), hence allowing teaching to become a more scientific and plural affair. Actually, what was dropped in the 1981 programme was the plan towards a pedagogy accomplished in dialogue, actualised through group and collective work (thus advancing team solidarity and co-operation), enabling children to exchange responsibilities instead of conforming them to accumulate information and hence strangling creative initiatives.

Moreover, PASOK’s gradual shift in approaching educational issues in a social-democratic way became even more evident during the 1981-1989 period when several of the objectives, stated in the 1981 programme, were actually rejected by PASOK in government. More specifically, the proclamation for the annulment of private schools and the absorption of private foreign languange institutes by public educational centres were abandonded altogether. The finance of education remained low despite the committments included in the “Contract with the People”, where it had been stated that the education expenses would come to equal terms with the defence expenditure [2] .

However, albeit the above mentioned inconsistencies between declarations and governmental practices, the majority of the propositions printed in the 1981 programme comprised the spinal column of PASOK’s governmental policies for education. The abolition of examinations to enter Lyceum, the introduction of three types of Lyceum (general, technical and comprehensive/multi-branched) and the change of the system of entry examinations to tertiary education, were actions which mainly aimed to complete the bourgeois reform in Greek education [3] . They were accompanied by the introduction of steps to democratise authoritarian structures in education. These steps involved:

the participation of representatives coming from a wide range of social groups in school administration;
the abolition of the former school inspectors and their substitution by school advisors who, instead of assessing teachers, collaborated with them in order to contribute towards their scientific and pedagogic support;
the reform in teacher education (the autocratic and usually obscurantist Academies of Pedagogy were substituted by University Departments of Primary Education).
the replacement of many right-wing ideological positions, explicit and overt at the school textbooks, by democratic, in character, positions along with the initiation of components from progressive education (mainly a kind of symbolic child-centredness).

The reform attempted during 1981 - 1985 should be understood within the framework of the bourgeois educational reform in Greece, incorporating important elements of democratisation which, to a great extent, were the result of the popular social classes’ dynamic struggles even before PASOK came into power in 1981. Specific social demands vindicated by collective subjects in education opened the route to democratisation. The fact that those collective subjects magnetised and encountered the ideological - political criticism by the Right during the same period of time cannot be regarded as a simple coincidence [4] .

Higher education was the level of education where PASOK’s reform engaged most of its democratic characteristics. According to the Education Act 1268/1982 on Tertiary Education [5] , the traditional Academic Chairs in the Universities were dispensed, promoting instead the organisation of the academic institutions on the basis of Schools and Departments. Furthermore, the students played an important role in the election procedures of the academic administration and their participation in the decision-making procedures regarding the form and content of the academic programmes was big and substantial. Democratisation was much more evident and immediate at the Univesities than at the primary or secondary education due to the annulment of an authoritarian bourgeois modernisation organized by the Right (Act 815/ 1978) during the winter of 1980. The rejection of the aforementioned Act bore the official seal of the New Democracy government when the Act was withdrawn after a struggle which culminated in the institutions being occupied by massive numbers of students whose participation was characterized by combativeness and politicalisation.

Hence, we can maintain that the extent and quality of democratisation, as a component towards the bourgeois modernisation advanced by PASOK, was directly related to the social struggles for/in education. The elements of democratisation in primary and secondary education were important both in the ideological terrain (changes in the content of education) and in the terrain of power relationships (discarding the school inspectorate). Nevertheless, the vertical structure of hierarchies in primary and secondary education was much less disputed than those at the Universities.

The turn towards neoliberalism-neoconservatism (1991 - 1997).

In the first period of PASOK’s power in government we can distinguish two phases. During the first phase (1981 - 1985), the most significant steps forward to democratisation were displayed in education (and generally in Greek society). But during the first two years of the second phase (1985 - 1989), PASOK reconsidered its former economic policy which included an across the board wage increase introducing austerity measures for the workers. As a result, the government in order to prevent the repeated strikes against its economic policies got involved in a straightforward confrontation with the Workers Unions intervening with legislative actions against the Greek General Co-federation of Workers (GSEE).

Those diversions constituted the beginning of a representation crisis between PASOK and the broad working classes. Though the shift towards neoliberal economic policy (expressed by the austerity measures and the confrontation with the Unions) did not last with its initial strength for more than two years, it served as the springboard for social discontent, which along with other parametres (a wave of scandal-mongering employed by the Right and an evident turn of the major parties of the Left to less radical theses), resulted in the election defeat of PASOK in 1989. Afterwards, an unstable and fluid period of government [6] ended with the final victory of the Right in the elections in the Spring of 1990 and the commencement of a self-reliant government for the next three years (1990 - 1993).

Actually, from 1985 till 1989 the reform in education as a version of social-democratic policy towards bourgeois modernisation with considerable components of democratisation was accomplished and successfully attained, as far as the introduction of new institutions and legislative action were concerned. However, it is the whole of the reform in education which was mistrusted and questioned by the Right and by PASOK itself due to the reorientation of its general policy (fundamentally expressed in the economic field) to neoliberal and neoconservative ideological - political alternatives. In this phase, the debate on education began to be displaced gradually from a problematic on the way education could contribute to the democratic reorganisation of the society and the construction of a “social state” into a problematic regarding the aptitude of education to respond efficiently to the needs of the labour market.

Though it is beyond the scope of our paper to analyse and examine thoroughly the processes which resulted in the shift of the debate on education, it is noteworthy to argue that apart from the ‘overall fruitful milieu’ brought together by PASOK’s general turn of policy, the new problematic for education was preceded by certain groups of intellectuals who evoked the notion of an educational crisis immanent in Greek society. These intellectuals related the crisis in education with its dissociation from the needs of the labour market or/and the disengagement of education from traditional discipline. Besides, an important role could be attributed to the government’s initiatives to propose legislative amendments towards a rigorous state control (Noutsos, 1990, pp. 34-40, 50-59, 88-95).

In the early nineties, the hegemony of neoliberalism-neoconservatism in Greece was sustained due to i) the international status of the neoliberal rearrangements in a period of regression of the socialist ideals; and ii) the intense crisis within the Greek Left (an immediate consequence due to the international situation on the one hand and due to the stalemate facing the left because of its major parties’ political practice since 1987 which concluded in the short-lived government in coalition with the Right realised in 1989, on the other).

The recovery of the Right in government unravelled strong possibilities for the neoliberal-neoconservative rearrangements. It was apparent that the neoliberal-neoconservative rearrangements in education could not but revise certain aspects of the bourgeois educational reform which, as mentioned above, has been completed during the 1981 - 1989 period. Those aspects were the democratic constituents of the reform.

The undertaking of New Democracy to implement its neoliberal-neoconservative programme in education (which included privatizations in tertiary education and rigid state control over the pupils’ and teachers’ work at the primary and the secondary education) encountered the decisive reaction of a massive movement which resulted in public demonstrations and many schools being occupied by both teachers and pupils. In the 1993 election PASOK regained government and proceeded immediately to the “freeze” of the legislative regulations endorsed by the Right during its three years of rule. Nevertheless, the term “freeze” actually meant nothing more than an unstable equilibrium because of two reasons.

First, PASOK could not bring forward immediately a neoliberal-neoconservative policy that would be identified directly with New Democracy, specially when it had participated, to a certain degree, in the pupils’ and teachers’ movement in 1990 - 1991. Second, the newly-formed political group with clear preference to uphold and employ a neoliberal-neoconservative policy (under the central slogan of “Modernization” which definitely replaced “Change”) occupied a hegemonic role within PASOK after the resignation and death of its President Papandreou and the election of K. Semetis in his place (1996).

The pressure to bring on to the surface the ideological postulations around the disconnection between education and the labour market, hand in hand with the ascendancy of the literature associating teachers and pupils with an ethos of “less effort”, made clear that the neoliberal-neoconservative attack on education was not entirely withdrawn from the frontline of the political agenda. On the contrary, both criticisms composed one pillar of a ‘logical necessity’ to which the Greek nation ‘had to’ conform to, in order to anticipate competitiveness and international antagonism, in an epoch where the “end of history” had alredy been declared and the “new values of the age” had risen uncompromising and beyond any critique. The epoch of homo-economicus, individualism and social cynicism accompanied with the ‘inevitable’ political apathy was ‘on its way’. The repertoire of the new age proved to accommodate ideally an amalgam consisted of the old but recently revived greek-orthodox triptych: “nation - religion - family” and postmodern verbosity. Thus, the neoliberal-neoconservative rearrangements of education were not defeated but postponed till the general ideological - political relations of power between work and labour would allow.

In the field of the social struggles in education, the 1993 - 1997 period terminated with teachers of both secondary and primary education on strike; the former, demanding salary increases, went on a long lasting strike while the latter for a shorter period of time. The new PASOK government, shortly after a victorious election in 1996, did not satisfy teachers’ demands aiming at diminishing the power of Teacher Unions, thus obliging them to withdraw in a climate of dissapointment. These tactics are to be understood in the framework of a general governmental decision espoused to put an end to any social and labour demands because they would render the country’s economic development inefficient and inadequate and hence endanger the “national objective” to participate in the Economic and Monetary Unification of Europe.

The Third Way as an ideological - political amalgam in Greek education

The aforementioned defeat of the Teacher Unions, in the spring of 1997, initiated the advancement of the neoliberal-neoconservative rearrangements in primary and secondary education. In the summer of 1997, the Parliament voted in favour of PASOK’s Education Act 2525/1997. This Act replaces the three types of the Lyceum (General, Technical, Comprehensive/multi-branched) with one type of General Lyceum (having a mere theoretical perspective) and the Technical & Vocational Institutions (which are not equated with the General Lyceum). Another crucial element included in the Act 2525/1997 is the intensification of the examination systems by multiplying the subjects examined for entry in tertiary education. These elements reveal the neoliberal character of the Act attempting to adjust education to the labour market.

According to a recently published research (July 2002) by the Secondary Teachers’ Union, just four years after the implementation of the new Education Act, the percentage of the pupils who graduated from Lyceum has been reduced by 33%. The percentage of the students who have followed the degraded Technical & Vocational Institutions raised from 25,5% to 37,2% (the great majority of them are students from the popular social classes). It is obvious that the reform deepened the existed social inequalities in education achievement.

Moreover, the new Education Act introduces an authoritative frame of control (over teachers’ work exercised by the school headmasters and the body of the so called counsellors whose role is in actual fact that of inspectors) whereby the restriction of pedagogic freedom in the educational praxis is prescribed and the neoconservative character of the Act is revealed.

The neoliberal-neoconservative hard nucleus of the Education Act is varnished with elements which sprang from PASOK’s social-democratic tradition such as the introduction of the “All Day Schools” for the working parents and the provision of the “Second Chance Schools” for those who have not completed obligatory education.

To put it differently, the Act 2525/1997 shapes the overall institutional school framework towards an autocratic route from the moment certain democratic characteristics are minimized because they are considered to have a negative influence over the effectiveness of schooling mechanisms. The consequences are more than evident in that filtration in education for the popular social classes has increased and pedagogic freedom tends to become ever narrow and compressed. The democratic characteristics distinguishable in the bourgeois modernisation (orchestrated in the mid-1980s education’s reform by PASOK) have been shrunk and PASOK in the late ’90s, supported by groups of intellectuals in education, has already adopted its “Third Way” political agenda.

One ideological schema in education which has worked out the “Third Way” agenda after 1990 was a version of “neo-humanism” mirrored on notions such as identity politics, multiculturalism, perspective of the “Other” and postmodernism. This ideological schema supposedly provided the platform to erect a new consensus among intellectuals, instead of class analysis as a theoritical framework in education.

Concurrent with the above ideological formulations appears to be the adoption of many characteristics immanent at the “Third Way” analysis of contemporary societies. According to Bullen’s (et al) consideration: &#laquo;Since its inauguration into government, Tony Blair’s New Labour Government has set out to create and occupy a new politico-moral terrain. Representing itself as historically specific to contemporary times and as moving beyond the outdated political binaries of Left and Right, it claims to offer a Third Way to national renewal. Central to New Labour policy is the creation of ‘a dynamic knowledge-based economy founded on individual empowerment and opportunity, where governments enable, not command, and the power of the market is harnessed to serve the public interest’ (Blair, 1998, p. 7) &#raquo; (Bullen, Kenway, Hay, 2000, p. 441).

The “Third Way” politics in Europe, as a mild version of neoliberalism and neoconservatism co-exists with the postulations of the “information society” and the “knowledge society” considerations. Such a correlation is verified by the common insistence on the prevalence and superiority of technology (which in fact ‘dematerialises’ the capitalist productive, social and political associations). Besides, the “Third Way” is supported by the dictums of the postmodern theorists who have postulated:

the inefficacy of the classical sociological theories (Marx, Durkheim, Weber) to account for and interpret the changes in contemporary societies;

the refutation of the “grand narratives” of the Enlightenment and Marxism, and

the dissent to recognise collective social subjects as the actual means to complement historical changes.

In such a manner an extensive literature prospered on the “end” of history (as a science), truth, freedom, causality and revolution. Furthermore, those endowments and meanings are supposed to be located in the past of the industrial societies hence worthless into the “post-industrial era”. From a political and ideological view similar representations reconcile theoretical eclecticism and a laissez faire approach appropriate for the adherents of neoliberalism and social Darwinism (Grollios, Kaskaris, 1997, pp. 102-108, Grollios, 1999, pp. 21-90).

The emergence/commencing of the above ideological approach towards the 1997 reform in education, launched by PASOK’s government, can be traced in an edited volume under the title Greek Education: Perspectives of Reconstruction and Modernisation which included a Manifesto for the reform of education. The reader of the volume is informed, among others, that the transition from the fordist to the post-fordist system of production, along with the dramatic consequences of the technological development in economy consist the parameters which should be taken into account for any effort to associate the education system with the needs of a country’s development.

Prof. Kazamias explains that the central characteristic of post-fordism is flexibility in specialisation, accumulation and production. The post-fordist flexible economy is founded upon knowledge, high technology and information technology (Kazamias, 1995, pp. 565-567). He understands post-fordism by analysing the tie between central state and local community bodies from a postmodern view, without cancelling the links with modernity, rather by re-evaluating modernity’s project in the light of transcending its theoretical and exegetical schemes that is modernity’s “grand narratives” (Kazamias, 1997, pp. 233-235). Kassotakis, co-editor of the volume, moves a step ahead affiliating next to post-fordist flexible and constantly renovating production procedures the tendency towards globalisation that appears due to the expansion and improvement of the new technologies in communication and information (Kassotakis, 1996, pp. 91-92).

The change of the paradigm in production, for both professors, provides the link that connects postmodernism and globalisation, on the one hand, and the proposition of the reforms in education, on the other, situated in the antithesis between the state and the civil society. This is an undertaking, varnished with principles of social-democracy which is placed among the purposes of the above mentioned elements of the neoliberal-neoconservative nucleus of the 1997 reform (identifying educational needs with the needs of labour market and authoritative frame of control over teachers’ work). The post-fordist model (relating to economic globalisation and technological achievements), which education ‘is obliged’ to accomplish, incubates a representation of society as an ecumenical harmonious stage of human relations.

According to other co-authors of the same volume, the content of school knowledge in modern societies is crystallised into two different epistemological categories, the national and the universal knowledge. Nevertheless, during the age of globilisation the nation-state is considered too small to encounter the major (global) issues but too big for the minor (local) issues. The ideals of French Revolution and the visions of socialism and communism, that Europe has nurtured historically, seem to have run out of steam in the age of the “end of history”. The way to solve the problem of school knowledge formation is the origination of a “cultural eclecticism” based on the undiminished and bright vigour of greek ancient civilisation and the greek orthodox ecumenism and diasporic element of Greeks which allowed hellenism to preserve its cultural independence, uniqueness and homogeneity through its history. Thus, the resolution of the problem on the content of school knowledge is assigned to Greece which must meet Europe in order to civilise the latter’s course in history (Flouris & Passias, 1997, pp. 254-267). The reform in education has to be focused on the preparation of a national plan of innovations beyond party politics, in a climate of political consensus about “less state and more periphery” (Flouris, 1995, pp. 360-361).

Globalization and the introduction of new technologies in education seem to configure a society relieved from conflicts among social classes or social groups. Even the use of the term capitalism is made without references to class struggle. The discarding of class struggle is supposed to be possible in the name of a national agreement/consensus for the sake of the reform in education situated in the problematic/obscure interests of the civil society. Hence, in order to amplify and promote the vision of this national consensus, an ideological amalgam is constructed combining conservative ideas for the perpetuation of hellenism (grounded in Greek-Christian civilisation), technological futurism and the postmodern negation of the “old narratives” in the age of globalization.

The Ministry of National Education and Religion Affairs (YPEPTH) has published a report titled Education 2000. Towards a Paedia of Opened Horizons, in order to explain the reasons that led to the extensive reform in 1997. In this report it is claimed that the main aim of the Ministry is to shape a contemporary and upgraded educational system with broad options for all citizens, without any age limitations as far as access to it is concerned. This system is considered to be able to put the foundations of the progress in Greek society and the country’s general development. It is also stated that &#laquo;the changes of the educational system would display the social and humanist character of the new Education Act 2525/1997, from the moment equal access in higher education is considered a right for every Greek citizen&#raquo;. The main claim of the report is that in the “existing society of information” and during “the epoch of a society of learning” what is to be achieved and firmly secured is the ample support by the citizens which could realise the sensitive and unique role of education.

Nevertheless, the legal statute for the system of teachers’ assessment and rigid state control has not been materialised yet. This delay along with the modifications suggested and already adopted for University entrance examinations (in 2001) are the results of social discontent and of a great movement against gonvermental educational policy conducted by the collective social subjects in education. More precisely, the movement was expressed in teacher demonstrations (and the consequent clashes with state police forces in June of 1998) and in the long lasting occupations of the school units by the students during the two school years 1998 - 2000.

Even though the struggles were not victorious because the Act 2525/1997 has not yet been abolished, the “Third Way” rhetoric of the educational reform did change. During the conflicts the supporters of the reform started to criticise the collective social subjects for lack of morality (Grollios, 2002, pp. 329-335). Besides, elements of the same rhetoric seem to be used for the promotion of neoliberal-neoconservative rearrangements in the tertiary education.

Prof. Kladis, special advisor on tertiary education at the Ministry of Education, re-introduces the literature on the society of information, flexibility and efficiency of education in order to legitimise ideologically new “nesessary measures” for the Greek Universities. The spirit of the reform expressed in the Act 2525/1997, according to Kladis (2000, pp. 463-475), can be extended to tertiary education as well, and the necessary preparatory steps to be taken are the application of strict mechanisms of assessment in the universities, flexible academic programmes and the abandonment of “prejudices” and “persistences”. Kladis, by using these two terms, is obviously referring to the current state of public universities with their democratic self-administration.

At this point we must underline that the subordination of the public tertiary education to the needs of capital is an ongoing process mainly on account of the inadequate funding and the related turn of many academic teachers towards research programmes organized by private organizations or/and European Union. It can be argued then, that this turn is a foundation for the neoliberal-neoconservative rearrangements proposed by Kladis.

The future of the neoliberal-neoconservative “Greek Third Way” reform in education is directly associated with the social struggles in/for education. Therefore, our analysis of the forms (social-democratic or “Third Way”) in which the prevailing bourgeois ideology and politics for education have been expressed by PASOK in the past could be regarded as a valuable part of a project of study and struggle. This project, if carried out on an international scale, would involve all those who do not limit their visions in the ground of neoliberalism-neoconsevatism, everyone who challenges the capitalist construction of education and society. Last but not least, the central aim of this project would be the understanding of the forms of the dominant politics and ideology in education so that societies (and of course their educational structures) are oriented towards a radical democratic/socialist/emancipatory direction.


Notes

[1] Spourdalakis (1998, pp. 19-44) offers a detailed analysis of the coexistence, compromises and conflicts between three important political groups inside PASOK (“left socialists”, “technocrats” and “conformists”) related to the dualism characterising its political expression between a radical left (often marxist) and a parliamentary discourse since its come into existence in 1977. Adoption of elements of the “School of Dependence” is obvious in the writings of PASOK’s President. For example, see Papandreou (1979) and compare with the presentation and the marxist critique of the “School of Dependence” (Amin, S., Baran, P., Cardoso, F.H., Emmanuel, A., Frank, A.G.) written by Milios (1997).

[2] Already, in the aftermath of PASOK’s election victory in 1981, the commitment to couple and associate defence expenses with education expenses, a commitment central to the declarations made in the “Contract with the People” statement, was abandoned (see PASOK, 1981b, p. 53).

[3] Bourgeois reform in Greek education had been a matter of conflicts since the end of the 19th century. The decisive steps towards bourgeois reform in Greek education were the establishment of a dual education network and the validation of Modern Greek as the official State language by New Democracy’s government in 1976.

[4] The critique by New Democracy’s speakers during the parliament debate on the Education Act 1566/1985 focused on the introduction of the comprehensive Lyceum, the abolition of the school inspectors and the participation of representatives, coming from a wide range of social groups, at schools’ administration. For this critique see Bouzakis, 1999, pp. 317 - 325.

[5] The University was the first level of education to be completely reformed, within the first year of PASOK in government (1982).

[6] A period with a coalition government among the right-wing party of New Democracy and the major parties of the Left, and an “ecumenical” coalition government among New Democracy, PASOK and the Left.


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Correspondence

Dr. Georgios Grollios
Department of Primary Education
School of Education
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
GR-54124
Thessaloniki GREECE
grol@eled.auth.gr

Mr. Ioannis Kaskaris
1st Primary School at the Department of Primary Education
29 Archaeological Museum
GR-54640
Thessaloniki GREECE
ikskg@hotmail.gr