ALTHOUGH it comes as no surprise to see that the education sector is as corrupt as other areas of Slovak life, including irregularities at the recent entrance exams for universities, this does not bode well for the future.
The parents involved in pushing their children into the 'right' university through either influence or outright bribery are doing a grave disservice to both their children and the country as a whole.
Those students who have entered university through manipulation of the entrance exams, take with them an attitude of superiority that will stay with them throughout their university and working careers. The idea that they can pay or push their way through anything without the effort required by others becomes an integral part of their psyche.
Those of their peers who have to struggle through university without such backing learn the same lesson from the other side - life is easier if you cheat. Only those with the strongest moral convictions will not act on that example in later life.
Unfortunately, at the moment they are right. Life in Slovakia is much easier if you play the system and bribe and cheat as much as everyone else. On the one hand, many Slovaks will claim that they have never been involved in bribery, while, without embarrassment, the same people will say how they paid a police officer to avoid a speeding fine or included a bottle of whisky to speed up some bureaucratic process.
It is often said that Slovakia will only escape the worst excesses of bribery and corruption when the generation that grew up under communism has died out. Unfortunately as long as the education system teaches that corruption is the easiest route through life, the current generation will be similarly infected, and that infection will spread like a cancer across society to future generations destroying Slovak initiative and innovation in its path.
Survival of the fittest means those of weakest morals will rise to the top of a corruption-ridden society, not those who have the intelligence and the drive necessary to take this country right into the heart of Europe.
Allowing corruption to thrive will ultimately extract a heavy price on this country, as those gifted people look for opportunities elsewhere.
It is time to weed out the corrupt elements across the whole education system, and allow the future generation to flourish in an environment where hard work and talent not graft is rewarded.
7. Jul 2003 at 0:00