FROM OUR MEMBERS: GREECE. On January 25th 2015, general elections in Greece resulted for the first time in modern Greek history a government based on the Coalition of the Radical Left, Syriza. This might be good news for adult education in Greece, says Dr. George A. Koulaouzides.
"After five years of experiencing a harsh austerity programme imposed by the external institutional lenders, the Greek people reached their limits of tolerance toward a political system that in the name of an ambiguous economic salvation, sacrificed the social well-being of its citizens. Therefore the election results cannot be characterized as a surprise.
The programme of Syriza does not concern only public finance and the Greek economy. The programme contains many reforms in almost all the aspects of social life and the field of adult education is one of them.
High hopes for new government
Last year I was teaching a graduate course at the Democritus University of Thrace on lifelong learning and adult education. As the background work for a session on critical reflection, I researched the adult education views of political parties.
To my surprise the only party that had a well-structured and clear position was Syriza. Certain aspects create optimism – at least for those of us who support the idea that adult education and lifelong learning are a public good that are not only a tool to serve the "needs" of the labour market.
The proposals of the new government’s programme (see the box below) are certainly a promising framework for adult education in Greece. What remains to be seen is whether they will become specific educational policy measures. A first reading of the government's intentions allows me to assert that their proposals for adult education will be implemented and this will mean a new era for adult education in Greece."
- Lifelong learning is a public good. Syriza proposes that “the human need for lifetime access to diverse knowledge, through various forms of social life, need to be provided by the state as a social good and right”
- Vocational and non-vocational adult education are of equal importance. Both are identified as evenly important factors for human development. Critical thinking, active citizenship and personal development (e.g. language learning, culture and leisure courses) are presented as crucial parameters for professional development as well as for personal and social integration.
- Emancipation, social inclusion and social cohesion are set as equally important outcomes of adult education programmes together with employability and competitiveness. Syriza’s programme is committed to support institutions such as the Second Chance Schools and to advance distance learning opportunities for all.
- A free and decentralised adult education system that will be tailored to the needs of different regions. It will implement its programs with transparency and public as well as social accountability.
Text and photo: Dr. George A. Koulaouzides