Last year's Greek Academy as starting point for integration of refugee children into main classes

Eight schools with afternoon classes for refugee children used their participation in the Greek Academy 2018 as a starting point for integration into main classes. By the end of last year all schools had in various ways included the refugee children in the ordinary school, allowing for interaction and integration with other students.

The Academy, which was organized by the European Wergeland Centre and the Hellenic Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, introduced topics like democratic competence, communication, controversial issues, and democratic culture at school. Here, we hear about three of the schools and their projects:

During the 2018-2019 school year the 15th primary school at Nikaia carried out a project that drew upon the main concept of “el Sistema” (i.e., the idea that music serves to bring people together regardless of nationality, gender, social and economic condition). All students participated and joined creative groups where skills were used in an open-minded way, focusing on music and team-spirit. The projects, which was met with applause and often ended with a party, allowed for diverse artistic expressions, merging of ideas and mutual acceptance.   

At the 1st primary school in Avlonas, teachers used communication tools developed through the Academy training to help the integration of students with a refugee background. Here, refugee children were given the role of “ambassadors” in communication activities involving different school departments.

At the New Ikonio Primary school they worked throughout the school year to build trust with parents through games and art projects. The school had experienced difficulties communicating with parents, especially related to the school’s afternoon classes for refugee children. These problems affected the students’ behaviour negatively. Through various projects initiated by the school team which took part in the Academy training, the communication between parents and school improved. This spilled over into the students’ behaviour. One good example was the floor game Sholiopolis (school city) which the children and an art teacher developed, and where they involved all children at the school. Parents came to watch, and the atmosphere between parents and the teachers improved with increased trust and better communication as a result. 

The Greek Academy 2018 was based on Council of Europe teaching and learning resources in education for democratic citizenship and human rights, and served as a piloting for EWC’s 3 year project on integration of refugee children in Greek schools which will involve up to 150 schools by the school year 2021-2022.

Contributions by: Gribila Efrossyni (School Head), Maroukaki Marina (English teacher), Papaharalambous Efthymios (E' Class teacher), Dimitrakou Maria (ST' Class teacher), Assimaki Spyridoula (Art Teacher) and Roussopoulou Maria (Parent) at New Ikonio Primary School, to Efi Kremou at 1st Primary School in Avlonas, and to teachers Nikolaidis Konstantinos, Fiseki Maria and Siemoy Paraskevi – Yvoni at 15th primary school at Nikaia.

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