Learning mother tongue as an integration tool
The Municipality of Karditsa since July 2019 supports refugee children, who live in the city under the ESTIA program, to learn their language of origin.
On the initiative of the municipality, an Arabic school was established under the responsibility of the Development Agency of Karditsa. The goal of the initiative is to empower the refugee community and promote the integration of children. Learning the first language increases the self-esteem of children and strengthens their abilities in the second language, in this case, Greek.
This is the 2nd Arabic school in all of Greece. The action was initially supported by UNICEF and the Hellenic-Arab Friendship Association.
The Development Agency of Karditsa organizes regular joint meetings with UNICEF and stakeholders (teachers, community representatives).
The lessons take place on the ground floor, next to the Intercultural Center “STAVRODROMI” where children meet before and after the lesson, play or discuss their own topics and interests in a pleasant environment using very often what was discussed and learned in the lesson.
The school is run by the refugee community itself, by volunteer refugee parents who were teachers in their country.
At the same time, information is offered to refugee parents about the benefits of their children’s integration in the Greek education system.
There are 3 departments: one for kindergarten children 5-6 years old and two for children 7-15 years old depending on the cognitive level of the children.
Explicit interest was expressed by other municipalities who recognized the action as a good practice. It also provides multilingual and socio-emotional empowerment to refugee children and enhances integration.
From July 2019 to October 2019 the program was attended by 62 children and 100 parents.
NOTE: The program has stopped operating but the Mother Tongue School of the French Community is operating.