For almost a decade, Greece has been dealing with many multileveled and severe challenges since the onset of the ongoing financial crisis, with the influx of refugees being the most recent one. Greek schools struggle with issues connected to these challenges daily. A big number of refugee children have spent a long time away from home and as a result away from school. It is Greece’s obligation to provide the opportunity to these children to re-join education or to attend school for the first time.
Greece acknowledges its obligations to provide access to education in line with international conventions, and important steps are taken to strengthen refugee education in Greece. The new education law (June 7th 2018) includes a chapter on Refugee education. The same rules on school enrolment apply regardless of residence or legal status.
For the school year 2017-2018 approximately 8000 refugee children were enrolled in 980 Greek schools. For the school year 2018 – 2019 between 12 000-13 000 refugee children are expected to be enrolled in up to 1500 schools. A further increase is expected for the school year 2019 – 2020.
Even though legal and structural provisions are in place, there is not always the necessary support for all the schools where refugee children are enrolled once they are there. There is limited training, practical guides or good practices offered to schools on how to manage the situation, which may cause tensions and conflicts in the classroom, in the school environment, with parents and the local community.
EWC’s project addresses a particular gap in the provision of education to refugee children. On an operational level, the integration of refugee children into the educational system is funded from different sources. For instance, substitute teachers for reception classes are recruited by funds secured through the European Social Fund (ESF), transport of refugee children from accommodation centres to schools are covered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). UNICEF provides support for interpreting services to schools.
However, there is very little funding in place for support, guidance and training for the whole school community once the refugee children are in schools. The national Institute of Educational Policy (IEP), under the Ministry of Education, is responsible for the content of refugee education, but because of the austerity measures in Greece limited in-service training is provided for teachers.
The project aims to address this situation. Through the project school directors and teachers are trained to create safe and inclusive schools and classrooms where refugees are welcomed into a learning environment which aims to provide quality education to all. The training aims to equip school directors and teachers with the tools, competence and confidence to manage controversy and deal with issues concerning intolerance, discrimination, racism and hate speech in school and the local community.
Aims and deliverables
The main objective of the project is that refugee children are integrated in Greek schools that are safe and inclusive for all. In order to achieve this, EWC will offer training and mentoring to school directors and teachers in 150 secondary schools with refugee pupils.
The expected outcomes are:
- School stakeholders’ capacity to create an inclusive and safe learning environment at school increase
- Education institutions’ capacity to create an inclusive and safe learning environment for all students increase
- School stakeholders have access to quality teaching and learning materials, training modules and good practices on integration of refugee children
The expected deliverables are:
- 150 secondary schools (including all 28 vocational schools) nationwide that enroll refugee pupils take part in the project
- up to 3000 school directors and teachers are trained
- up to 450 trainings conducted
- relevant teaching and learning materials are provided and disseminated to school staff
- a practical guide for schools on integration of refugee children will be produced
- a national network of schools for sharing of good practices and experiences is established
- a national network of experts and teacher trainers is established
Through their participation in the project schools become more democratic and inclusive in their everyday practice. This means that
- School directors and teachers are better prepared to welcome and include refugee children in schools
- Refugee children experience a smoother integration in schools, as an equal member of the school community
- School directors and teachers are better equipped to deal with issues concerning intolerance, discrimination, sexism, racism and hate speech in school and the local community
- Teachers learn how to create safe spaces in the classroom for teaching and learning about controversial issues
- School directors and teachers develop their competences for a democratic culture in school
- Pupils, regardless of background, will experience less conflicts and a more inclusive learning environment which better facilitate learning and improve the quality of the education provided in school
- Parents and local community actors experience improved communication and cooperation with schools regarding the integration of refugee children.
EWC is the project promoter responsible for the design and implementation of the project. The project will be implemented under the auspices of the Hellenic Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs. EWC has established a cooperation with the Institute for Education Policy, which is an institution under the Ministry, in charge of national in-service training and quality assurance of Greek schools.
The project will be conducted in close relationship with the Fund Operator for the EEA Grants (programme area 3) in Greece, the NGO Humanrights360, and the Financial Mechanism Office of the EEA/Norway Grants.
The monitoring and evaluation of the project will be done in cooperation with the University of Leeds Beckett (UK).
The 3-year project has been approved as a pre-defined project under the EEA/Norway Grants 2014-2021.