4th Primary School of Tirnavos is a new institution that was established when two small primary schools were integrated and it was selected to follow the reformed curriculum that the Greek Ministry of Education has set (multiple languages are taught in our school from grade A and also the curriculum is enhanced with arts and ICT classes) . It is situated in a rural area of Greece and there are about 250 students and 30 teachers in our school.
Tirnavos is a town of 20.000 people in the centre of Greece. Since the last decade a large number of immigrants (mostly from Albania and Romania) have settled down in the city. In addition, a large number of Roma families (about 5000 people) have also moved to the outskirts of the town.
As a result the school population has changed creating a multicultural context. For the purpose of promoting understanding of the teaching and learning context, it is necessary to explain that there are considerable differences in the students’ socio-economic background, interests and language skills (in Greek), as 20% of the total number of the learners belong to families of Albanian and Romanian immigrants while 35% belong to Roma families that have recently moved to the area.
All these student groups are “bilinguals” - mastering a “minority” language at home with their family (Roma, Albanian or Romanian language) and the “majority” language (Greek) at school or in other social activities. Unfortunately, the largest number of these students appear to have learning difficulties and fail in school. As a result, school drop out is often as not all of them manage to complete primary education and go to high school (high percentage of Early School Leaving).
Thus, the school staff has to copy with a number of new everyday challenges in many different levels:
• Language issues
• Different life experiences that impact children’s interests/understanding
• Dominant group reluctant to value and include diverse cultural contributions
• Issues relating to the self and the group images of the participants
• Marginalized groups of students and school bullying
Our school collaborates with the University of Thessalia, Volos which supports the school staff with experts, seminars and resources and aid the effort of the teachers to practice innovative and sometimes non formal approaches for the inclusion of all students in the educational process. The focus is on the implementation of new approaches towards Roma education, the inclusion of marginalized groups and differentiated instruction.
In addition, some members of the staff have participated in personal and professional development actions (e.g. trainings, conferences, seminars, workshops) organized locally and nationally. However it is misfortunate that though most of the staff members are well educated on graduate level none holds an academic degree in multiculturalism.
A small presentation that students in grade 5 made for our area and our school. Enjoy!!!!