Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Snakes!...in the Library!...Again!

My niece attending law school in Greece can't use the library because the local venomous snakes have taken up residence. When I wrote about this in November, I sent a copy of the blog to the head of the law school. Answer? zilch, of course. (His name is Prof Kalavros and here's his email: gkalavro@law.duth.gr.

This week she came to visit and I, curious as ever, asked about the snakes. Surely they had been dispatched into the wild at last to allow legions of desperate law students to browse earnestly around the stacks. She looked at me as though I were a fool.

"No, they are still there," she said. I was incredulous.

"But I remember you said you were going to complain about them and the other things," I replied.

"We did, but nothing happened."

Then it became clearer. There was a general assembly for students which was held by the political parties--the left, Pasok, and the right, New Democracy--but no one from the university or the law school attended. There was much rhetoric, but it was merely for show. Hence, nothing was done.

Snakes sleep soundly.

I asked about the other things that had been promised. Surely there was access to computers now, especially email. No, not yet. Nor have the promised laptops appeared. The odds are in favour of their never appearing. At least the books must have arrived. Hallelujah! They have.

Only a minor obstacle has newly surfaced. The professors have disappeared. You can't have everything.

What I'm describing may seem barbaric and primitive, and having talked to lawyers in Greece who have been through something similar, the future remains bleak. There is no incentive to change at all. It seems the system is at the mercy of the political parties, but more importantly the system is drenched in corruption.

If you thought the way professors became "baroni" in Italy was bad, I think Greece has a few lessons to offer its less sophisticated brother. Appointments are fixed and entry to law school is tweaked to ensure that anyone who wants to join a law school later, by switching degree or doing a new one later in life, must bribe their way in. The current price of entry is equivalent to the cost of a new Mercedes. This is one of the reasons why English law schools benefit from an influx of Greek students. With the costs of tuition and living in the UK, it is still cheaper to get a degree here than in Greece. If you want to be a lawyer, you then do it via the EU process.

So, for the next four years my niece has got to stick it. She's got to get through this travesty of an education as quickly as possible, so she can begin to learn something afterwards when either she enters practice or goes elsewhere for a postgraduate degree. Until then she is in limbo reading her books and hoping she can pass the exams on her first attempt.

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