ΤΕΥΧΟΣ 9

ΤΕΥΧΟΣ 9

ISSUE 9

October 2007

EDITORIAL

G. Nikolaou

CONTENTS

The Muslim minority in Greece (W. Thrace) constituted until recently the only officially recognized Muslim minority population in a European state. Although most states of the European Union have Muslim groups either as citizens or as migrants, an officially recognized minority poses partly different questions and raises different issues especially in the field of education. The public Greek and international discourse on the educational situation of the Muslims in Greece follows one of the next two trends: it is either a narrative of suffering, repression, subordination and harassment of the minority on the part of the Greek state and its central and local institutions which results to poor educational achievement, identity loss and social injustice, or a narrative of the educational and social well-being of the minority and of equal opportunity practices, due to the acceptance and implementation of the  principle of respect toward cultural (religious, linguistic) difference on the part of the Greek state. Behind these narratives lies a conflict of symbols and codes. Minority symbols and codes are established, strengthened and reproduced  via the institution of a separate bilingual minority education, through the presence of informal religious education (Koran afternoon courses) and through the establishment of several parallel educational informal structures on the part of the minority. On the other hand the Greek state has followed a policy of  “educational appeasement” toward the main  formative power (Turkey) of the educational policies of the Muslim minority in W. Thrace which consists in (a) denying other than Turkish language, ethnicity and culture within the minority groups, (b) refraining from the establishment of a wide network of kindergarten for the minority children in the region and (c) initiating measures of educational affirmative action for the minority. This type of interaction between the Greek state, the Turkish state and the minority leadership results in an inadequate command of the mainstream codes ( greek language, culture, citizenship) on the part of the minority youth. This handicap expresses itself  in the unfavorable allocation of educational, economic and  social status in the region and is interpreted by the minority leadership and other actors as the outcome of ongoing “racism” on the part of the majority against the minority. In this sense the greek state contributes itself through a defensive strategy of refraining from the implementation of integrative policies to the creation of  a parallel society in W. Thrace and of the potential for ethnically expressed social and cultural conflict in the region.

Expectations for improvements in education exist because this is inefficient and lacking in many respects. Among the priorities of the educational policy for Comprehensive Education are:

  • A managerial control carried out by the most suitable persons
  • Improvements in the university entry  examination system
  • Institutional changes in the distinction  of technical and vocational training, along with the substitution of TEE into (Professional Lyceum and Professional Schools ΕPAL and  ΕPAS)

Changing of  textbooks

The current educational system does not correspond to the needs of our days. It is characterized by exceptions, isolation, distinctions, inequalities, drop-outs of students attending etc. These educational inequalities make up for   the existence of an educational margin, consisting of basically ‘sensitive’ social groups.

This paper examines the factors leading to the reproduction of the educational margin and is based on the application of the educational programme “Placing (not integration) of gypsy children to school”, used in this case as an example. The importance of this case study lies in the fact that it proves the recognizable isolation processes for gypsy children from school or the creation of educational inequalities which account for the coming into being of the educational margin, while the same study seeks to explain the social derivation of inequalities that reproduce the educational and social margin.

The programme “Placing gypsy children into the general education/ coherent school” is of an innovative character, aiming to fight against school isolationism, while it is classified along with inter-cultural education. It recognizes difference in students and focuses on securing equality of access to schooling for all children. The choice of the word ‘placing’ or ‘placement’ was made so as to differentiate from the concept ‘integration’. The former denotes that the individual is a functional member of the ‘group’ it is being placed in while the latter means turning  one into  an  inseparable part of the already formed group. The programme finally focuses on facilitating the access of children to school.

The realization of the program’s aims depends to a high degree on coping with the contradicting aspects of education on a political level. A number of problems arise from the ways gypsy children are faced by the school, the school hierarchy and the educational hierarchy. School tolerates their not attending and finally their drop-out.  Social segregation follows, as these children often find school doors closed. Local school authorities have also been negative towards having them at school, regarding them as lower status people. The programme insisted, making use of all means available and on whole grade gypsy children   school attendance.

A second line of defense on the part of the school system to prevent the group’s entry was a partial acceptance of these children through the creation of separate classes for them (segregation), a fact which is not provided for by school legislation, although the separate classes did a good job in preparing the children for entry to the general schools.

The third way of coping with gypsy children had to do with a kind of host or supplementary teaching classes within the school framework, a kind of ‘special education school’. The advantage of this is the co-existence of gypsy children with the other children and the appearance of new communication opportunities and interaction in a shared school environment.

The fourth has to do with their typical integration   in the classes of schools, which however involves the risk of the children being marginalized if the necessary supporting measures do not exist. This in turn will bring about their failure and drop out before completing elementary school.

The set-up of music-language labs also aimed at attracting gypsy children to school, while at the same time   preserving traditional musical instruments that would be studied by gypsies.  Besides, illiterate adolescents would be assisted in acquiring basic skills, that would enable them to find employment later on and be integrated in the social body by also coming in  contact with non-gypsy people.

Results were positive in the sector of music, as well as with the language labs. In addition, seminars were organized to raise awareness in regard with the issue of gypsy educational opportunities, while train teachers of gypsy children to enable them facilitate the learning process for their students.

Finally, the level of gypsy school attendance is related to accommodation conditions. It must be noted that almost all of those with permanent residence    (house) send their children to school who then go on to High School and the Lyceum. The state we believe will play a vital role in enhancing gypsy school attendance by solving the accommodation problem.

The final problem that must be seen to has to do with sources.  The Ministry of Education is not consistent   with cash provision/payments of teachers, a fact which hinders programme effectiveness.

Expectations for improvements in education exist because this is inefficient and lacking in many respects. Among the priorities of the educational policy for Comprehensive Education are:

a) A managerial control carried out by the most suitable persons

b) Improvements in the university entry  examination system

c) Institutional changes in the distinction  of technical and vocational training, along with the substitution of TEE into (Professional Lyceum and Professional Schools ΕPAL and  ΕPAS)

d) Changing of  textbooks

The current educational system does not correspond to the needs of our days. It is characterized by exceptions, isolation, distinctions, inequalities, drop-outs of students attending etc. These educational inequalities make up for   the existence of an educational margin, consisting of basically ‘sensitive’ social groups.

This paper examines the factors leading to the reproduction of the educational margin and is based on the application of the educational programme “Placing (not integration) of gypsy children to school”, used in this case as an example. The importance of this case study lies in the fact that it proves the recognizable isolation processes for gypsy children from school or the creation of educational inequalities which account for the coming into being of the educational margin, while the same study seeks to explain the social derivation of inequalities that reproduce the educational and social margin.

The programme “Placing gypsy children into the general education/ coherent school” is of an innovative character, aiming to fight against school isolationism, while it is classified along with inter-cultural education. It recognizes difference in students and focuses on securing equality of access to schooling for all children. The choice of the word ‘placing’ or ‘placement’ was made so as to differentiate from the concept ‘integration’. The former denotes that the individual is a functional member of the ‘group’ it is being placed in while the latter means turning  one into  an  inseparable part of the already formed group. The programme finally focuses on facilitating the access of children to school.

The realization of the program’s aims depends to a high degree on coping with the contradicting aspects of education on a political level. A number of problems arise from the ways gypsy children are faced by the school, the school hierarchy and the educational hierarchy. School tolerates their not attending and finally their drop-out.  Social segregation follows, as these children often find school doors closed. Local school authorities have also been negative towards having them at school, regarding them as lower status people. The programme insisted, making use of all means available and on whole grade gypsy children   school attendance.

A second line of defense on the part of the school system to prevent the group’s entry was a partial acceptance of these children through the creation of separate classes for them (segregation), a fact which is not provided for by school legislation, although the separate classes did a good job in preparing the children for entry to the general schools.

The third way of coping with gypsy children had to do with a kind of host or supplementary teaching classes within the school framework, a kind of ‘special education school’. The advantage of this is the co-existence of gypsy children with the other children and the appearance of new communication opportunities and interaction in a shared school environment.

The fourth has to do with their typical integration   in the classes of schools, which however involves the risk of the children being marginalized if the necessary supporting measures do not exist. This in turn will bring about their failure and drop out before completing elementary school.

The set-up of music-language labs also aimed at attracting gypsy children to school, while at the same time   preserving traditional musical instruments that would be studied by gypsies.  Besides, illiterate adolescents would be assisted in acquiring basic skills, that would enable them to find employment later on and be integrated in the social body by also coming in  contact with non-gypsy people.

Results were positive in the sector of music, as well as with the language labs. In addition, seminars were organized to raise awareness in regard with the issue of gypsy educational opportunities, while train teachers of gypsy children to enable them facilitate the learning process for their students.

Finally, the level of gypsy school attendance is related to accommodation conditions. It must be noted that almost all of those with permanent residence    (house) send their children to school who then go on to High School and the Lyceum. The state we believe will play a vital role in enhancing gypsy school attendance by solving the accommodation problem.

The final problem that must be seen to has to do with sources.  The Ministry of Education is not consistent   with cash provision/payments of teachers, a fact which hinders programme effectiveness.

Over the last decades international and European   organizations have increasingly been occupying themselves with the assimilation of culturally different immigrant populations by the host society they live in, in accordance with the growing human mobility throughout the planet.

This paper is dealing with the factors that hinder the application of votings, declarations, charts, or other paperwork provisions aiming at the assimilation of different cultural background immigrants by a host country.

2. The tug-of-war between the ‘individual’ and the ‘group’

Although there may be a series of human rights concerning each individual separately, these are not always acceptable by group entities. An example of this is the previous East Europe block of states, rejecting the right to private property, or the Muslim World regarding women issues. Second, on state level, individual human rights are  expressed neither in law , nor politically. This situation leads to tension, a fact which may be understandable in the Western World, but not elsewhere, thus causing cultural misunderstandings which in turn create social and political friction. Another problem, the financial one, is also a hindrance when it comes to a state attempting to  materialize provisions of declarations.

Cultural diversity cannot be viewed as simply the celebration of selected cultural manifestations of subordinated cultures aimed at securing better relations with dominant cultural groups. In his papers he refers to some cultural facts that are seldom incorporated in multicultural education programs. Thus, multiculturalism is never a co-existence of various cultural groups organized symmetrically, multicultural research is a study about other cultural groups as cultural objects and presupposes that it can and should be done through the dominant languages and never through the subordinated languages.

The author situates the analysis of multiculturalism within a framework of race issues without diminishing the importance of other cultural factors such as class, ethnicity and gender. He argues that most pressing challenge facing educators is the ´´ethnic and cultural war´´. Multiculturalism education aiming at preserving cultural tolerance has failed to eject the element of preponderance. The widening gap between the rich and the poor countries has increased immigration and this has given rise to an increase of racism and xenophobia. In this frame most educators of multicultural programs fail to understand the neo-colonialist ideology that informs the multicultural debate today. An ideology which differentiate a dominant person adopting a second culture from a cultural subordinate individual struggling to acquire and be accepted by the dominant culture.

Moreover, he proves that an empirical study produces conclusions without truth if it is disarticulated from the social-cultural reality within which the subjects of the study are situated. There are not genetic reasons for the differences in IQ between black and white people as Eysenck suggested, because these results are based on quantitative researches which don’t incorporate the cruel reality that a cultural subordinate student have to face. The pseudoscientists in the name of objectivity ignore the socio-cultural reality of these students and thus they fail to explain for example their poor performance in school. Educators should not isolate their objectivity from social class and cultural identity factors that ultimately shape such objectivity.

As a conclusion, the author argues that it requires honesty to advocate for the democratic rights of subordinate students and to denounce the inequities that shape their miseducation. What this honesty requires is social justice and cultural and economic equity. Cultural education offers the opportunity to achieve a true cultural democracy by producing culture and reproducing it by imposing dominant values.