Migrant pupils ‘excluded’

Most of the country’s schools have been unable to absorb foreign pupils, even though they account for a tenth of schoolchildren, chiefly due to an absence of Greek language lessons on the syllabus, education experts say. Apart from failing to run regular Greek lessons, most schools use textbooks that reinforce the concept of a monocultural rather than a multicultural society and as a result immigrant pupils feel excluded and many drop out of school, according to a study by Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University. The comprehensive two-year study, conducted on a sample of 4,500 teachers and 16,000 immigrant pupils, found that the 260 secondary schools that hold regular Greek language lessons for their foreign pupils have observed a marked improvement in these children’s academic performance and in their social integration. Of the 16,000 foreign pupils questioned for the study, 6,000 had been attending Greek classes, according to Zoe Papanaoum of Aristotle University’s pedagogical unit, who said these lessons played a crucial role in their social integration. «There are pupils who told me that the Greek lessons are what keep them at school,» Papanaoum told Kathimerini. «These children have received the boost they needed but they also feel good because an effort has been made on their behalf,» she added. The study – titled «The Integration of Repatriated Greeks and Immigrant Children into Secondary Education» – is also reported to have been beneficial to some 4,500 teachers who were trained in the principles of multiculturalism. These teachers were provided with a guidebook suggesting the most «balanced» choice of textbooks. «Most textbooks do not take account of the multicultural nature of our society,» Papanaoum said. According to figures from the National Statistics Service for 2005, the most recent available, there are 124,684 foreign pupils attending the country’s primary and secondary schools. Of these, 34,500 were registered at state high schools. These figures are believed to have increased significantly over the past three years.

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