Intercultural education can be viewed as a means of school improvement as it exposes the school unit to alternative multicultural teaching and learning environments, thus reinforcing the comparative study between countries and systems, in order to select the most appropriate ones.
A common tenet between various notions of intercultural education is the assumption that the curriculum must include various courses, programs and practices as a means of reducing the impact of disablement of individuals from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds; barriers which often inhibit individuals from reaching their full potential and from accessing social, political, economic and educational opportunities (Banks, 1999). Thus, it becomes an urgent necessity for certain strategies to be incorporated into the school system, if the educational system is to at all face the current multicultural reality and the needs of all students within the system. (Markou, 2001: 74).
However, schools do not always have the capacity, the skills nor often the will to incorporate strategies which will bring about the necessary improvements and change on their own. Thus, innovative actions must initially come from sources outside the school.
The development and implementation of the Program ‘Inclusion of Repatriated Greek and Foreign Migrant Students in School Education’ by the University of Athens with the collaboration with the National Ministry of Education forms such an innovative, support initiative. The Program has as a central focus, the support of multicultural schools by providing models of effective and diverse teaching and learning practices, by using specialized teaching media, by offering training and professional development opportunities and by creating new teaching and learning material. Specifically, the Program provides:
School based language support measures for repatriated and foreign students
Training and professional development programs in intercultural education for teachers and other members of the school community
Psychosocial support of teachers, students and their families
Specialised teaching and learning resources for language development and support material for intercultural interaction and communication
The present paper sets out to highlight to what extent the support measures within the Program have initiated improvement at the school level. The evaluation process extends to the entire geographical region of Greece, addressing school based issues in both primary and secondary education and covering a period of implementation from 2006-2008.
The methodological approach of the Program rests on the combination/synergy of theory and practice, research and policy formation, as a process of meeting the immediate educational needs of students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds at the school level and meeting the needs of approach support measures at a systems levels: needs which emerge as a consequence of the dramatic demographic change of the community.