THEODORAKIS AGAINST 'ATHINA' PLAN
The Education Ministry’s ‘Athina’ plan, which among other things proposes seemingly indiscriminate institutional mergers and abolitions with scant regard for academic criteria – has thrown another tough obstacle in the course of universities’ efforts.
Theodorakis speaks out
Iconic 88-year-old composer Mikis Theodorakis has spoken out openly against the Athina plan, which over and above mergers or abolitions of many public institutions has proposed reducing the number of students in remaining universities and further, severe reductions in state funding of institutions.
The composer’s reaction was provoked by the plan’s indirect attempt to abolish the public nature of higher education, which is embodied in article 16 of the Greek constitution, by suggesting that institutions seek private sponsorship and make greater efforts to connect their educational programmes to the demands of the market.
Referring to IMF and EU admissions that the numbers for economic recovery in Greece had been wrong – though this did not lead to corrections to economic policies that are plunging Greeks into greater poverty – the famous composer said:
“Athina is not another mistake; it is a well planned step towards the further downgrading not only of Greek education but also of the whole of Greek society, individually, occupationally, biologically and educationally.”
In the same message, the composer argued that powerful groups “want our people on their knees, obedient, ignorant and submissive without resistance and without national conscience or patriotism, in order to usurp our national resources and in order to turn us into well-behaved slaves; they are taking us back to the period of colonialism”.
In a direct appeal to students, he said: “Don’t let them do that. It is up to you, together with your parents and the rest of the Greek people, to ensure the safety of the country, to take the problems of our motherland in your own hands.”
Negative academic responses
Equally negative has been the reaction of the academic community, distinguished members of which have accused Education Secretary Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos – a university professor – of disregarding academic criteria and acting on the basis of narrow political and economic interests.