Greek Parents Don’t Want School Flagbearers Chosen by Lot

Oxi Day parade in Athens. Photo by EUROKINISSI/GIANNIS PANAGOPOULOS.

ATHENS – A group of parents wants the state’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, to overturn a decision by the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA for flagbearers in school parades to be chosen by lottery and not to the best student as had been the custom.

SYRIZA doesn’t believe in excellence in education nor standards for university admissions but the parents who protested said the flag should be held by a student who has achieved and not randomly, said Kathimerini.

Education Minister Costas Gavroglou issued the lottery scheme but the parents said it is unconstitutional and was driven by ideology and not merit, nor by popular demand or social necessity. He said the lottery makes the process fairer even if it excludes top students for their work.

The issue drew attention at the Oct. 28 Oxi Day parade when an Athens school rejected the name drawn for flag-bearer, that of an Afghan boy who had been at the school for just a few months.

He was instead allowed to carry a sign with the school’s name on it while another child carried the flag. His family home was later attacked by unknown assailants who ran away and hid instead of stating why they went after a little boy.

He was later invited to meet Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at Maximos Mansion and received a Greek flag.

Tsipras said a government decision to end the tradition of schools’ top students carrying the Greek flag in parades was designed to give all students a chance at the honor and that criticism was because of “populism” – a term ironically applied to his ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition’s 2 1/2-year reign.

“Everyone should have the right to hold the flag,” he said  earlier, trying to rebut claims by the major opposition New Democracy Conservatives that the Leftists want to end excellence as a criterion.