Lifelong Learning Programme

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Towards the Recognition of

Non-discrimination Principles at School

This section of the I Have Rights portal provides administrative information for the project contractual partners and for the European Commission and it is password protected.

Case Studies

Homepage > CaseStudies > Case Studies

60 case studies have been identified. The case studies focus on intercultural issues, integration, non-discrimination values and human rights at school.

Back to the Case Studies List

"Art and Sports, Assistants for Integration"


Name of the teacher
Olga Kalomenidou
Subject taught:
Years of experience:


Name of the School:
2nd Secondary School of Stavroupoli / " Support Structures for the Education of Refugees" Derbeni Camp, Dion Elpida
School Typology:
Lower Secondary School


Background and Context:
The school is a SSER (Support Structure for the Education of Refugees), a school that operates in the afternoon zone only for refugee children living in Hospitality Centers. This is an institution that began for the first time in the school year 2016-2017. Because the refugee population is extremely unstable, which makes programming very difficult in education, it was found useful to create this new type of school. Children living in flats can, however, join formal education according to their age. The children attending the SSRE do not come in contact with the rest of the children in the morning cycle of school. In the SSER of Elementary School, a total of 50 children attended at various times. The turnout was great.
There are currently 24 students enrolled. Turnout is diminished due to Ramadan and we have about 14 children every day. 25 students attended high school. Lastly 10 are enrolled and only 5 are attending. High school attendance was much more difficult than in Primary and I had to convince students to come to school on many occasions. In elementary school, however, pupils of full-time school were playing football or other games with the students of the SSER, at the initiative of the sports teachers.They could also play during breaks.
The specific school attended by the pupils of the SSER (67th Elementary School) was in an area in Thessaloniki (Xirokrine), which heavily experienced the economic crisis and has a particularly high proportion of immigrants. The building is old but in good condition, there is a room for school gatherings and performances. There is also a computer lab. There is no sports hall and the toilets are placed outside the building. At the secondary school of Stavroupolis, students did not meet at all. The exception was 2 school feasts (17 November and 23 December) and 2 days when they painted together a wall of the school.
The facilities of the secondary school are excellent. The building is new, there are laboratories of Informatics and Chemistry. There is an indoor gym and a large amphitheater for events, featuring a piano. The percentage of families with financial difficulties is less than in the primary scool.
Factual Description:
The program started on 10 October 2016 and ran until June 15 for primary schools and until 23 June for secondary schools. Although the families of our students were largly from Syria, there were cases from Iraq. Even among the Syrian families there were differences: other families were Kurdish and others from Palestine. Most of them, however, were Muslims from Syria. Because they were not in the same class with the children of the morning cycle, there were no phenomena of discrimination.
There were, of course, some parents of children in the morning cycle who were worried about various unspecified reasons. There was a pervasive dissatisfaction at the beginning, which was on health and cleanliness issues. But it was a small percentage of parents and quickly the climate was overthrown by the warm welcome of the rest. The refugee parents of the hosting center, on the other hand, had some concern about how their children would be admitted to school. "Do the Greeks want our children to go to school?" Was a question I sometimes accepted. "Teachers do not love our children because they are strangers," someone else said.
What I tried to explain is that most Greeks want refugees to join the educational system. There are of course some who raise objections and obstacles. Education, however, is a right of every child and there must be nothing that stops it from going to school. The State and the parents have an obligation to help children join school and rebut all obstacles. Parents have to overcome fears in order to help children overcome their own.
Most parents understood this and supported the school. There were even parents who insisted on the daily attendance of their children. But there were 2 families who refused to send the children to school. In both cases there was a very authoritarian father who said he did not want his children to go out of the Hospitality Center because he was afraid.
Teachers, for their part, "as substitutes for part-time work", were no particularly interested for the class. Their recruitment was made from general lists, so even people with a negative predisposition to refugees could be hired. "I won't be sorry if the refugees will not learn a lot" a substitute teacher said. I told her of course that she was in the wrong school. There were also substitute teachers who overcame themselves and worked passionately for the integration of these children. A brilliant example was the gym trainer Giorgos Katekis, who throughout the year made actions aimed at integration of children with the most brilliant action of "We play-Live together" in Kaftatzogoglion stadium.
School headmasters were particularly supportive.In the first quarter of the year, when there were no coordinators of SSER , they did a lot of work to support this new institution. There were no issues of racial discrimination within the classes, because the students were all refugees. Other kinds of discrimination between student refugees were not observed. There is, however, a question of objective discrimination between refugee students attending a school in different classes of the same building in the afternoon, so that refugees do not meet in school with greek students. Refugee students are taught by part-time teachers who are not actually involved in the school's operation, therefore acting in isolation from their regular colleagues in the morning school. This isolation is discriminatory and creates an objective pedagogical-didactic problem at the expense of all refugee students.
The interaction with Greek-speaking children of the same school -apart from the practice of language- also constitutes an additional learning motivation, which can be used in teaching. The lack of this cohabitation due to the isolation of the refugees works as a negative motivation for the cultivation of the greek language.
They had to teach non-Greek, of other religion and cultural characteristic pupils, with a particularly strong impression of refugee status, a task for which the substitute teachers did not have the slightest predisposition or support on the part of the State.
The end result was their very poor education compared to the regular schooling of the remaining pupils.
Activities carried out:
The actions were mainly sports and arts. When there is the obstacle of the language, the way of communication is easier through such activities. There have been almost daily activities with children from all-day school in sports.
NGO Antigone offered a conflict resolution program in elementary school from November to December, and in secondary school from February to May. Due to the fact that the NGO has an interpreter, it was very useful to finally be able to listen our students: their dreams, their fears, their difficulties, their preferences.Unfortunately, in the elementary school, the project was stopped because the NGO had no approval from the Ministry and the Managing Director refused to take responsibility after the intervention of the Councilor who supported this decision.
Throughout the program at primary and secondary school there was a very good acceptance from the students. Teachers unfortunately not only were not helped but generally refused to take part and listen to their students. This was a great disappointment for me.
Other actions were theatrical performance in cooperation with the morning school on December 23 and film screenings at the Cinema Museum on April 7th. Also visits at the Rowing Club, at the Archaeological Museum, at the State Conservatory of Thessaloniki, which designed action exclusively for our children. Except the inclusion of our students in the swimming program of the Ministry by a professor at the State Conservatory who volunteered. Music lessons also took place in the school and in the Hospitality Center by volunteer musicians.
A very successful action was the visit from the vocational high school of Rethymnon, Crete to our secondary school. Our pupils showed presentations from their country, sang songs and ate together. The atmosphere was really good and we all felt very close together.
In another case, students of the secondary school painted a wall of the school together with children from the morning cycle, under the guidance of the art teacher. There was the idea of ​​filming a movie with children from morning cycle school students and SSER students, but it was not well supported by the teachers and did not take place.
The most successful action, of course, was in Kaftantzoglio, where about 500 children (150 of the regular morning schools, the other students from SSER) took part in various sports for one day. The next day, our students took part in the Students Games of Central Macedonia, another athletic event at Mikra Stadium.
Finally, the students of the Primary School participated in the Multilingual Festival of the Municipality of Thessaloniki, where they sang two childrens' songs (one from Greece and one from Syria) and danced two traditional dances (Greek and Syrian).
Assessment and lesson learnt:
I can not say that with the above actions students made substantial steps towards their integration in the greek society. All actions have helped greatly to reduce the sense of exclusion and institutionalization, which is a serious risk for children who spend a long time in Hospitality Centers remote from the urban society. However, they did not help our students to come closer with greek children and to develop friendly relationships.
Even after one school year, they show shyness when they meet with children outside the Hospitality Center, even with children who speak the same language. It seems that joint actions fail to fill the gap of daily contact and common experiences that children experience within classroom.
I also do not think they have had a decisive impact on parents. Continuous engagement with their children gave a true image of interest, which helped develop a climate of confidence. But I think that the original idea did not change, that the school their children attend is not good enough and that they do not learn anything important.
Teachers on their part also did not change from the beginning of the year. In addition to a single example of a teacher who showed great willingness to change in teaching methodology and classroom management, the rest were largely dissociated and thus remained until the end of the year.
It was a difficult year for all those who worked in Refugee Education. The initial reactions of the local community have ceased. The children lived in a school environment, even if it was a special school. They learned some rules of school life, made elections and voted for the president in their class, learned a few Greek and a few English. It was not the best that the State could do. At a first glance, one might say that the situation of the refugee students would be almost the same, even if they had not attent school at all. I wish our students will remember with affection our poor effort.
Description of the Case Study in National Language:

Follow us

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.