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Case Studies

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

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Name of the teacher
Athina Papanikolaou
Subject taught:
Tutoring support on greek language subject (unaccompanied refugees children)
Years of experience:


Name of the School:
Intercultural Lyceum of Thessaloniki, East Thessaloniki
School Typology:
Upper Secondary School


Background and Context:
I was placed at the Intercultural Lyceum of Thessaloniki for the period 21/1/2017 to 3/4/2017 to teach unaccompanied refugees. The school is located in the center of the city. The building is prefabricated, in a miserable condition in terms of cleanliness, infrastructure, courtyard, sound insulation.
It’s dynamic is 60 students, with a majority of 99% refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and children of economic migrants from Georgia, Bulgaria, China, Russia and Albania. A small number of the refugees live with their families in apartments or sheltered structures within the city (e.g Hospitality Center in Tuba) and a significant number are unaccompanied minors mainly from Afghanistan and Pakistan and a few from Syria-Iraq. There are no Greek pupils as was the case in the past.
Therefore, it is not an institution that mediates Greek culture and language, and teaching in all lessons is mainly done in English since, apart from the few children from Albania, the rest do not speak Greek and, therefore, there are no natural speakers of the language who would facilitate learning greek in everyday vocabulary at least. So teaching always drifts into English.
Factual Description:
During the three months of my work in the Intercultural Lyceum, I undertook Siabaz’s literacy in greek, an underaged then,17 year-old Pakistani, who lived in a structure for minor unaccompanied refugees under the supervision of an NGO Arsis. My colleagues told me that this student did not come every day at school, had many absences, did not speak, did not respond to their calls to show some effort in language lessons but was obviously ashamed and “withdrawn” to himself. They realised he pretended to read but, in reality, he just repeated what he have heard. So I began my first lesson with him.
I first employed the first reading tabs used by teachers in the 1st grade of Primary School, i.e. images with words starting with the letters of the greek alphabet. After reading and writing them on the blackboard, I was asking him to write and read them, too. From the first lesson I realized that it was extremely difficult for him even to catch the pencil to write, but he made a great effort and the fact that he was alone in the classroom freed him from shame for his ignorance in front of the other students. I changed the method and decided to start with information about his family, his homeland along with my own family and country.
He knew very little English that he learned in the hospitality structure and a few words in Greek concerning everyday life, for example “good morning”, “well”, “not well”...
With these minimal language skills he confessed to me that he had never attended school, that he has been working from 5 years old, he left Pakistan at the age of 12 and went through Iran and Turkey where he has worked in enslavement conditions (many hours) and came with other minor children in Greece. With the help of my mobile I showed him my own family, I told him that I am a mother and wrote my name along his name in Greek and English in the blackboard. I also wrote the word “mom” and I asked him to talk about his mother in his own language, even if I did not understand even a word. He began to speak in his mother tongue about his mother, and I understood the changes in his expression, emotion, sadness, nostalgia, joy and deprivation.
Then he painted her on the board and in his notebook and I told him to call and talk with her at that moment with his cellphone. From that moment on, S trusted me and grabbed the pencil to write the words we had on the board .He even allowed me to do something that is not allowed in his culture, to grab his hand and guide him in the formation of letters. Every day he was looking for me at the Teachers’ Room to continue the individual sessions.
We started the day with a greeting shaking hands and exchanged words from our languages, for example, I was learning the words “sun”, “tree” or “brother” in Urdu and he learned them in Greek. We created his own vocabulary notebook and he showed great interest and improvement along the way. Colleagues observed, as they told me, a great change in his behavior, he had become more social, he expressed himself more easily and tried to participate in class actions. He also learned the Greek alphabet and read disyllabic words.
Unfortunately, this support was occasional, as on entering adulthood he was moved from the minor structure, midway through the year, to an apartment away from school, and again I moved from intercultural school to refugee camp.
Activities carried out:
No action was taken in the case of S, except for his participation in the educational visits organized by the school, for example, to an exhibition (Tellogleion Foundation). The NGO ARSIS hosted the young student in the minor's structure and provided for his English language lessons.
Assessment and lesson learnt:
It was a great experience to support S. Difficult and unknown as a teaching experience, with little help received, improvising and studying material related to the learning of Greek as a second language, attending relevant seminars. The difficulty, however, was that the student was illiterate even in his mother tongue, which would greatly facilitate the learning of a second language. He lacked basic literacy and with difficult living conditions.
The strategy I followed gave results and relied on the continued interest in his progress, knowledge and respect of his particular culture and his homeland, the use of new technologies (computer, internet, mobile) and the exchange of information using daily vocabulary.
Proposals: Strengthening intercultural schools with permanent staff, actions that bring together refugee and native students, changing curricula to respond to new developments, vocational training for older children. Systematic teaching of the Greek language as a necessary prerequisite for their stay in the country and their integration into social life.
Description of the Case Study in National Language:

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