“My way to school”

On the occasion of International Migrants’ Day, an event entitled "My way to school" was held yesterday, Monday, 18 December, at the Central Office of the Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs and Sports.

19 December 2023
Ανοιχτός διάλογος μαθητών με την Υφυπουργό Παιδείας, Θρησκευμάτων και Αθλητισμού, Δόμνα Μιχαηλίδου.
UNICEF/Greece/Pantelia

ATHENS, 19 December  2023- On the occasion of International Migrants’ Day, an event entitled "My way to school" was held yesterday, Monday, 18 December, at the Central Office of the Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs and Sports.

The event was organized by the Independent Department for the Coordination and Monitoring of Refugee Education of the Ministry of Education, in cooperation with the Greek Language and Multilingualism Laboratory of the University of Thessaly and the UNICEF Office in Greece.

The event was welcomed by Deputy Minister Ms. Domna Michailidou, the Secretary General for Primary, Secondary and Special Education, Mr. Ioannis Katsaros and the UNICEF Representative in Greece, Dr. Ghassan Khalil. Also, the event was honored by the presence of UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Ms. Elena Paparizou.

Early on, students from the Intercultural Highschool of Athens, the 2nd Highschool of Intercultural Education of Elliniko and the Evening Highschool of Agios Dimitrios, accompanied by the teachers and the principals of the schools, passed through the gate of the Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs and Sports to watch the film and discuss with the Deputy Minister of Education, Religious Affairs and Sports, Ms. Domna Michailidou about school, as a place which strengthens identity and a sense of belonging. The documentary film "I have 2 - 3 dreams" on the importance of education in times of uncertainty and conditions of displacement, was created in the framework of a creative documentary workshop, coordinated by the director Vera-Iona Papadopoulou, in collaboration with students, school teachers, mentors of the University of Thessaly and the UNICEF Office in Greece.

After the screening of the film, the students, together with their teachers, discussed with the Deputy Minister, Ms. Domna Michailidou, about their experiences at school, their insecurities, fears, dreams and goals.

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Elena Paparizou also participated in the dialogue, sharing her own lived experience of her school life as a child of immigrants.

After the event, Mrs. Domna Michailidou, Deputy Minister of Education, Religious Affairs and Sports, said the following:

"Today we had the opportunity to see the fruit of the joint effort of students, which answers the question "what kind of school do we want?", why we want it and why we should have it. Teenagers with different origins, religion, language, customs, history and cultural backgrounds,  whose circumstances brought them to Greece and who found themselves studying together with others in the same intercultural school. With sensitivity and respect, but also with the spontaneity and joy of their youth, they spoke to us about their insecurities, fears, dreams and goals.  My heartfelt thanks to all those who contributed and supported this effort. Mrs. Galina Altuhova, Head of the Refugee Education Department of our Ministry, the directors and teachers of the schools, the University of Thessaly and the UNICEF Office in Greece. The intercultural school is by definition inclusive. It is the place where diversity is the norm and not the exception. The school’s operation does not aim at the elimination of diversity! Its aim is to restore communication through the learning of the Greek language. The language functions as a field of mutual understanding, recognition and acceptance of differences for the sake of a peaceful and creative coexistence of everyone with everyone. That is why we invest in intercultural education through actions such as the one we have taken today. Our aim is to foster acceptance of diversity through mutual respect. In this way we will succeed in combating discrimination, inequality and social exclusion.”

UNICEF Representative in Greece, Dr. Ghassan Khalil also said:

"Education is a non-negotiable right of every child. The work of educators, teachers and students in schools, shown today through this moving and so genuine documentary, is a shining example of how a school unit embraces children of all cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds and empowers them to become fully integrated into society through learning. Congratulations to the students and teachers and we look forward to continuing to work with all of you, always in coordination with the Ministry of Education and the relevant General Secretariats."

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Elena Paparizou said:

"It was a great pleasure and honour to attend a very moving UNICEF event today at the Ministry of Education on the role of education in the lives of children and young people especially children growing up far from their homelands. We shared stories, truths, experiences, we were moved, we laughed and we pledged to continue together in this great effort to eliminate stereotypes, prejudices and barriers that have no place in the school setting and in the journey of learning. Congratulations to the children for the wonderful documentary they prepared and congratulations to UNICEF and the Ministry for their remarkable work."

Δόμνα Μιχαηλίδου, Έλενα Παπαρίζου και Γασάν Χαλίλ.

Enjoy the documentary “I have 2-3 dreams”, here.

The Independent Department for the Coordination and Monitoring of Refugees of the Ministry of Education plans and implements actions that aim at the full inclusion of children with refugee background in the Greek educational system, ensuring their unhindered education and the fuller information and awareness of the educational community and the Greek society at large on issues related to the integration of refugee children in the Greek educational system.

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