Foreign pupils are excelling at most Greek secondary schools, study shows

Nearly three in 10 foreign and repatriated pupils (29.5 percent) managed to score more than 15 (out of a perfect 20) in their second year senior high school examinations in 2002. This gives them an advantage to make the most of their final year in senior high to secure entry to a good university. Overall, a total of one in 10 immigrant high school and senior high pupils (7.5 percent) get top marks. «The conclusions drawn from the first impressions of the performance of foreign and repatriated pupils are exceptionally encouraging. They show that after a decade of immigrants coming into Greece, these pupils have succeeded in integrating themselves into our education system,» Athanasios Gotovos, professor of pedagogics at Ioannina University and vice president of the Institute of Diaspora Greeks’ and Cross-Cultural Education (IPODE) told Kathimerini. «Indeed, it is evident that a university education is a realistic goal for these children,» he added. Based on the institute’s statistics for 2002, out of a total of 1,460,464 pupils in Greece, foreign and repatriated pupils accounted for 130,114 (9 percent of the whole) – specifically 98,241 foreign pupils and 31,873 repatriates. More specifically, according to the institute’s first nationwide study on the performance of foreign pupils in secondary education (conducted on a sample of 35,049 pupils), it transpires that just 1.4 percent of pupils in the final two classes of high school failed to exceed the pass mark. Meanwhile, 7.6 percent and 8 percent of second and third year high school students, respectively, were awarded top marks. The fact that performance improves in the first year of senior high is deemed significant. One in two students (52.6 percent) score above 15, and 16.6 percent achieve top marks – percentages which shows that their intense efforts are paying off. Just 1 percent of these students received grades below the pass mark. But in the second year of senior high – when expectations have risen – the percentage of those failing to score above the pass mark reaches 9.2 percent. «This means that the support programs for foreign and repatriated pupils should be included in senior high school curricula, not just in kindergarten and the obligatory school years,» Gotovos said. «Our aim is to emphasize the increase in the average performance level. Moreover, it is worth noting that the extremely encouraging performance by these pupils does not correspond with the alleged existence of racism in schools. It seems that the negative phenomena of xenophobia and racism have been blown out of proportion,» he said. The performance of pupils in Attica, where there is a larger concentration of immigrant students, is equally impressive. Indeed, around 30 percent of high schools in Athens have top-scoring pupils, according to data given to Kathimerini by the Athens Municipality.