“Our country opens a big embrace for students from Ukraine”
“Have a nice run!” With a good morning in Ukrainian he welcomed Alexander and the Katerina, the two students of the 1st and 2nd class of 1th and 4th Primary Schools of Rafina, who arrived from Mariupol in the midst of the war raging in their country, the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs Niki Kerameos. The visit was also attended by. Luciano Calestini, representative in Greece of UNICEF, with which the Ministry maintains a memorandum of cooperation for actions related to inclusive education, the Director of Primary Education of Eastern Attica, Dimitrios Nikoletsopoulos and two interpreters, in the framework of the cooperation with UNICEF.
The Minister discussed with the children…
The Minister discussed with the children, listened to the ways in which their classmates and teachers have welcomed and integrated them, showing them games, teaching them words in Greek. Little Alexander told the Minister that he loved football and they played together, as well as with his classmates, in the courtyard.
Niki Kerameos congratulated the…
Niki Kerameos gave congratulations the school principals and teachers for the warm welcome of the students, for their willing contribution to the response to this humanitarian crisis and for creating a climate of hospitality and acceptance.
They spoke about the challenges they face and the pedagogical methods they use, as well as the possibility of transferring good practices of integration of children in the school community to other schools, both in Greece and abroad.
The Ministry of Education has developed the necessary expertise
Besides, from previous refugee and migrant flows, the Ministry of Education has developed the necessary expertise and a complete institutional framework for the integration of refugee students in Greek schools and the immediate and effective coverage of their educational, social and psycho-emotional needs.
The initiatives undertaken by the leadership of the Ministry
The initiatives undertaken by the leadership of the Ministry for the response of the educational community, in our country and internationally, to the war in Ukraine, can be summarized as follows:
Setting up a European Action Group
– A proposal, accepted by the EU Council of Education Ministers, to set up a European Action Group to assist the Ukrainian education community.
Supporting the educational community
– Suggestions to schools from the Institute of Education Policy on how to support the educational community, which assist our teachers’ work on the war in Ukraine, in the context of planning and implementing supportive actions.
Provision of telephone and live interpretation in Ukrainian
– Cooperation with UNICEF and METAdrasi for the provision of telephone and live interpretation in Ukrainian, so that the language is not a barrier to school enrolment and attendance.
– Launch of a translation of a guide for the Greek educational system, how to enroll in it and the protocols prevention and treatment of coronavirus in Ukrainian.
Integration of Ukrainian students in Reception Classes
– Inclusion of Ukrainian students in Reception Classes, which are attended by students with little or no knowledge of the Greek language for 15 hours/week, with an intensive Greek language learning programme. The rest of the time, students attend classes in their regular classroom, where language communication is not the primary focus, such as Physical Education, Music, Computer Science, Foreign Language, etc.
Continuation of the existing training programme for teachers
– On intercultural education to support teachers in the education of children with refugee/immigrant backgrounds.
– Preparation in cooperation with UNICEF and IEP of a training guide and 2 two-hour training seminars for teachers who will welcome or have welcomed students refugees from Ukraine, e.g. with activity suggestions, phrases in Ukrainian,
– training of psychologists and CEDASY social workers to support refugee pupils in schools and CEDASY
Support for refugee students by psychologists and social workers
– cooperation between the Ministry of Social Affairs and UNICEF for the support of refugee students by psychologists and social workers in UNICEF’s Creative Employment Centres,
– immediate actions for the repatriation of seconded Greek teachers serving in Ukraine.
Before Niki Kerameos left the school, Konstantina, a student of the 6th grade, gave her the following touching note:
I hope these flowers will show you the way of hope, because they are real heroes and worth listening to. They flourished despite all the difficulties with our little help, their boundless will and a lot of hope. The flowers will be turned into refugees and you will provide the minimum help. Do you agree with the changes? The flowers embellished the pots with their scent and the refugees embellished Greece with their culture.”
Niki Kerameos said:
“Greece has opened a big embrace to welcome the students who have left their country for a safer destination, for a better tomorrow. These children, who have experienced the horrors of war, will find here a refuge and care for their educational needs. The smooth integration of refugee children into Greek schools is a priority for us. We are concerned about the right to education, the equal integration of all children without discrimination, the strengthening of Reception Classes and Reception Facilities for the Education of Refugees as well as teacher training, the monitoring of children’s attendance and the resolution of issues at every stage of the educational process. Our aim is to form a substantially inclusive school.”