Privatization of Education in Contemporary Society: The Case of Shadow Education in Greece

Privatization of Education in Contemporary Society: The Case of Shadow Education in Greece

Panagiotis Efstratios Giavrimis (University of the Aegean, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1847-2.ch004
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


Shadow education school, as an institution in Greece, was established at the beginning of the last century. The chapter explores the impact of shadow education on the Greek educational system, learning, and on transforming public education in consumer products. A qualitative research was conducted, attempting to document Greek young adults' opinions on shadow education and the reasons they are led to it. Forty-four structured interviews were received from 11 men and 33 women. The results showed that the liberalization of education during recent decades has been accurately implemented in the institution of shadow education. Restrictive and maladapted educational policies and decisions on needs have exacerbated the purposes of shadow education development and have highlighted the exchange value of the individuals' objectified cultural capital.
Chapter Preview


The globalization of markets, the emergence of the information society, and new ways of communication have brought about changes in the labor market. Giddens (1994) referred to it as disembedded from local contextualities and Harvey (1989) to 'space-time compression'. Also, competition, which is a feature of post-modern capitalist society, is not only about individuals but also about institutions that face the disruption of social contract, which concerned the welfare state. According to Adam Smith, education should be treated like any other activity, with emphasis on market liberalization, competition, and the development of personal motivation (Teixeira, 2002).

Within this context, education is perceived as a commodity and students and parents as “customers”. Privatization of education is associated with neoliberalism, and especially with the “small state-free market” approach of the 1980s (Apple, 2006; Ball & Youdell, 2007). This juncture between public and private sector has emerged from the new dimensions of the interrelationship between neoliberal policy and state-economy and commercialization of goods (Getimis & Kafkalas, 2003), while social relations and human values are alienated and identified with exchange value (Narosky, 2007). So, people have been becoming representatives of 'commodities' (knowledge) moving through the impersonal-materialistic process of market (Antonopoulou, 2008, pp. 168-169). “The dramatic expansion of capitalist commodity production and of, “material culture in the form of consumer goods and sites for purchase and consumption 'have produced what is called' consumer culture” (Kenway, Bigum, Fitzclarence, Collier, & Tregenza, 2007, p. 6). Therefore, market forces play a dominant role in shaping educational policy and acquisition of knowledge is the key development factor in the postmodern era (Swain, 2005).

The emergence of Information Society in the past decades has contributed decisively to new social transformations, revising, or changing constants that form all areas of everyday life. Within this context, education searches for an identity, aiming to socialize a subject so that s/he will produce cognitively, exercises his/her judgment, evaluate, communicate effectively in a multicultural environment, cooperate and manage new cognitive tools (Komis, 2004). Privatization of education affects the operation of public education on many levels, such as: its organization, its curricula, student assessment, teacher training and salaries, and students’ and their parents’ perception of schools and teachers (Ball & Youdell, 2007, p. 16). The flexibility of private education in any form and its relation to educational choices, meeting the educational needs of “customers”, autonomy of decision making and clear “customer-centered” orientation make it competitive with public education by influencing both the latter’s results and its quality. Thus, choice becomes a necessity in developing countries and, more specifically, in secondary education (Carnoy & Samoff, 1990).

All these are intensified by the evaluation of the effectiveness of educational systems, which were introduced in the 1960s. The theory of human capital was the core of educational reforms of that period, and its main reference was the relationship between the economic and productive activity of a society and its educational capital, which is considered as the result of investments and resources spent during the educational process (Becker 1993). Productivity, the number of employees and the Gross Domestic Product can be increased only if the educational system of a nation – state is qualitative and effective (Heyneman, 1997).

Key Terms in this Chapter

School Achievement: Effort of students to adapt within the framework of the school.

Private Lessons: (“idiaitera mathimata” or “frontistiria” in Greek) Courses taught mainly (but not necessarily) by public school teachers, in private spaces outside the school, without being allowed by the law.

Social Inequalities: Unequal access of people to social resources.

Privatization of Education: Education that is considered to be a marketable product subject to the requirements and rules of the market economy.

Panhellenic Exams: Admission exams in tertiary Greek education.

Shadow Education: A parallel private education system to the public system.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: