On my 16th birthday, I visited my friend Michael. He received private tutoring after school and therefore knew some topics in mathematics better than I did. Our mathematics teacher, Mr. Stavrides, was a brilliant mathematician, but I always left his classes with many unanswered questions and many issues still unclear. It was not his fault, though. How could he be expected to be effective with 33 students in a class where the radiators did not work and the ceiling leaked? On that day, with a little help from my friend I managed to grasp the topics that I had not understood in Mr. Stavrides’ class. On my way home, I thought about it. If my parents could afford to send me to private tutoring like Michael, I would have a chance to achieve my goal of becoming an electrical engineer. It was an open secret that Mr. Stavrides offered private lessons to groups of three to five students of his class just after his normal teaching hours in the school. My family could never have afforded these lessons. Some students said that Mr. Stavrides could be persuaded to offer a little extra ‘push’ to the grades of the students of his groups. These grades were of great importance for university entrance. Everybody in the school knew Mr. Stavrides’ private students. They knew that we knew. The normal hours in the school and the private hours in Mr. Stavrides after school ‘lessons’ were interlinked. However, nobody could do anything about it. I duly took my examinations the following year, and eagerly awaited the results to see if I would become an electrical engineer. Sadly, my grades were not adequate. My cold class with the leaking ceiling and my teachers who secretly and unashamedly taught for money are among the excuses that I still make today in order to protect my hurt ego. Yes, I never became an electrical engineer; but it was not my fault. Yes, I could have become an electrical engineer if I had been able to afford to be better prepared for the examinations. At that time, I didn’t know the exact meaning of the phrase ‘equality of educational opportunity’. But I did know the meaning of the word ‘unfair’. Two decades later, the world is very different. However – and this is quite disheartening – the Greek school system has not overcome the problems that I experienced many years ago.
Σημείωση Ιστολογίου: ο «κ. Σταυρίδης» μακροημερεύει στην ελληνική εκπαίδευση και φιγουράρει πλέον και στα πιο επίσημα ευρωπαϊκά ντοκουμέντα. Το ιστολόγιο θα παρουσιάσει λίαν προσεχώς τον επίσημο χάρτη της Ευρωπαϊκής παράλληλης παιδείας αλλά τον αφιερώνει προκαταβολικά σε εκείνους που για πολλά χρόνια μας ζάλιζαν με την άγνοια των γεγονότων στην παγκόσμια εκπαίδευση.