NEWS

Minority education today

There are bilingual minority primary schools and Greek state schools. Do you think minority children should have the right to choose between them? I ask because the bilingual schools do not appear to have produced the results that were expected of them. The children are not learning the Greek language which would help them progress in the country they live in. At the moment, 70 percent of minority children attend Greek state schools, and so yes, they clearly do have the option to choose what school they want to attend. However, just as choosing to be a member of a minority is a right in accordance with international law, the question of choice regarding schooling is self-evident. The state should take steps to safeguard the minority’s right to choose and to support diversity. Therefore it should also support the quality of education in these schools as much as in the state schools, so that the choice is based on personal criteria and not on the desire for equality. The chronic problems that have mounted up in minority education have led to illiteracy among a very large sector of our fellow-citizens, with incalculable consequences for our national economy and the development of Thrace. I believe that the current government is moving in the right direction and the political leadership of the Education Ministry is making enormous efforts to raise minority education to a modern European standard, with respect for bilateral treaties and international models. Knowledge of the Greek language should be a top priority for all Greek citizens so that they can make progress in the country they live in. The participation of minority women in various Greek language programs held by the Education Ministry has been amazing and sends a message that the minority is eager for knowledge and education. Minority children should have a modern European education with respect for their mother tongue, the language of their country and a third language. There is talk of having the Turkish language taught in state junior high schools in Thrace. Some sources say this might happen this September. What do you think about this? Introducing the Turkish language in Thrace’s junior high schools as an optional subject is being considered by the Education Ministry and is a positive move, since a large percentage of minority pupils go to state schools. Certain conservative circles on both sides might oppose the idea. They may take a dogmatic view, but I would like to remind them that the good thing about a democracy is tolerance for the needs of the minority. If it does this, the state will be fulfilling its obligation to preserve multiculturalism and language skills for those who choose to go to the state school. Support for minority schools, with the construction of new school buildings as well as other steps to improve the quality of education (such as teacher training and further education), as well as support for state schools, should continue at a faster rate in accordance with the needs and choices of the minority.