Foreign pupils assimilate well

Foreign pupils seem to have assimilated into the Athens school system, since only 17 percent say they faced problems, which some teachers attribute to language difficulties. Three-quarters of all high school students say they have friends of another nationality, as well as 84 percent of primary school pupils. Of those who said they hadn’t, 65 percent said it simply hadn’t happened, 23 percent claimed they didn’t have much in common with them, 6 percent said it was the foreign children who didn’t make friends with them, while as many again said it was because their parents didn’t want them to socialize with foreigners. Three in 10 children at Athens primary and secondary schools are non-Greeks, according to high school figures. The percentage ranges from 5.4 to 83.74 percent at each school. (Either they themselves or one or both of their parents were born abroad. Some were ethnic Greeks from abroad or children of Greek men or women and their foreign spouses.) Whatever their origins, any of the above criteria was seen to influence the child’s cultural identity and language development. More than half of the teachers surveyed believe that having foreign children in the school does not lower standards in the classroom. However, there are more who believe that they have an adverse (28 percent), as compared to a positive (14 percent), effect on the classroom atmosphere. Meanwhile, 40 percent of teachers said they did not have enough knowledge to help the children, both Greek and foreign, to create a multicultural environment.

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