An enlightening article written by Dionysis Pavlou, educational coordinator at RIC of Mytilene and regional trainer of Schools For All, on the student’s great effort and on the supportive educational network that enabled his success.
All of us felt immense joy and satisfaction with the great success of Kourosh Nourmohammadi Baygi, a refugee student of the General Lyceum of Mytilene from Iran, in the Panhellenic Examinations. Just three years in the Greek educational system and he got an absolute A in the focused courses of his chosen area . In the course of Modern Greek, he achieved a performance that for his effort in Greek language corresponds to more than an “A”!
This performance is of course due to his excellent intellectual abilities. But also, to his enormous willpower, his great perseverance and his inexhaustible patience. To his patience that made him endure the living and four moves to three different camps in adverse conditions during these three years. During this period he continued his demanding studies.
To enable Kourosh to unfold his special abilities, a network of educational support from many people, institutions and organizations was set up around him. Contrary to what it is conveyed in some public statements and in various media and social network posts, this supportive system is not the work of a single person or a single organization. It is the combined and coordinated effort of many institutions and organizations of formal and non-formal education that supports every child, and young refugee who joins the Greek educational system. Because there are also hundreds of children, young people and young refugees who are excluded from the right and benefit of formal education and will never be given the opportunity to try their strengths in this system.
Because I have been working as a Refugee Education Coordinator in Lesvos since 2016, I am able to know first-hand the creation of this support network that has helped Kourosh in his efforts over these three years and I will describe below the main milestones of this effort as well as the key actors of this educational support.
Kourosh and his family arrived in Lesvos in August 2019 and settled in the already overcrowded Moria camp. Immediately Kourosh started attending classes at the ‘Gekko Kids’ educational centre in Mytilene, operated by ‘Better Days’ in cooperation with the organization, at the time, Sunshine (Iliaxtida) non profit organization. In November of the same year, they moved to the Municipal Hospitality Centre Kara Tepe (now closed) and Kourosh enrolled and attended the reception class of the 2nd Vocational High School (EPAL) of Mytilene. At the same time he additionally attended for some months the tutorial classes of the educational program of the ‘SOS Children’s Villages’ within the Kara Tepe center.
With the first quarantine in March 2020, Kourosh and his classmates were excluded from their classes at public school, because there is no equipment for participating in the distant learning at the Kara Tepe center. At that time, however, he and a classmate from Afghanistan participated in an online creative writing workshop, “The Quarantine Dialogues” , implemented by the Panhellenic Network for Theatre in Education in collaboration with UNHCR under the “It could be me it could be you’ program, so as to record the experiences of isolation and quarantine of 24 refugees living in various structures and centres in the country. I,myself, had the responsibility of the local coordination of this action for Lesvos which produced texts and educational material that were published as a book (‘It could be me it could be you’). From these texts of Kourosh and his classmate, a friend of mine, the teacher of Greek Literacy and theatre Avra Avdi, got to know them and started online Greek language courses with them. These classes, a two-hour lesson every week, continued uninterrupted for the next two years, until June 2022.
Because Kourosh and his friend had strong ambitions for their educational future, they asked me to help them transfer to a General Lyceum in the 2nd grade, which was very demanding, because there are no Reception Classes for Greek language in the General Lyceums in Mytilene. In cooperation with the Director at the time of the Model Lyceum of Mytilene, Mrs. Georgia Skalochoritou, the two children applied for admission to the school, sat the entrance examinations which were a prerequisite, and succeeded with good results and were admitted, after being prepared in Mathematics by me and in Greek language by the aforementioned teacher.
In their new school they were embraced by their teachers and began their great effort. Despite the difficulties of quarantine and distant learning, this school year the students were supported by the provision of online and later face-to-face lessons by their teachers. At the same time, they both start to be supported with tutorials at the private tutoring center “Protypa Frontistiria” of Mytilene with the financial support of the ‘Better Days’ organization, continuing also his online lessons of Greek with Ms. Avra Avdi.
At the same time, Kourosh attended Greek lessons in the educational program ‘Goodmorning Athina’ (“Kalimera Athina”) of the ‘Sunshine’ (Iliaxtida) non profit organization and with the help of the teacher of the Greek Literacy, Mr. Paris Rados, he prepared and successfully passed the exam ,receiving the state certificate of Greek language proficiency.
Appreciating the performance and ethos of the two children, the Model Lyceum, under the initiative of its then School Director, Mrs. Georgia Skalochoritou, sent letters to the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum informing of their diligence and performance and asking to be taken into account in the examination of the asylum applications of their families, since both families had received rejective decisions. At the same time, the school participated in the action “The Quarantine Dialogues” , a creative writing workshop for couples of mixed ethicity, again in the framework of the “It could be me it could be you” project, which I coordinated.
With the beginning of the 3rd grade Kourosh set the high goal for his admission to the Greek University and started his strenuous effort, always supported by the teachers of his school under the supervision of the new Director Mr. Antonis Niros. At the same time, he was supported by the “Standard Tutoring Centres” of Mytilene, always with the financial support of the Better Days organisation, as well as with the online Greek language courses by Mrs. Avra Avdi.
His friend decided to move with her family to Hannover where she was transferred to the Greek expatriate Lyceum and graduated there.
At the same time, the school year 2021-2022 the school participated in the project “Schools for All – Integration of Refugee Children in Gree Schools” implemented by the European Wergeland Center (EWC), under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs and in cooperation with the Institute of Educational Policy (IEP), with the participation of the two children and many more of their classmates, with a pedagogical team of eight teachers and myself as the regional trainer at the Experimental Lyceum of Mytilene.
And so, we are concluding this journey with the Panhellenic examinations of June 2022 and the outstanding academic performance of Kourosh. This success proves that when the opportunity is given to refugee students to be included into the Greek educational system and to be tested even in the demanding context of the Panhellenic examinations, when a favourable supportive educational framework is created by all parties involved and when schools are supported with appropriate educational programmes, then every child and young refugee can realize his or her goals and dreams.
The article was first published in Greek on the online newspaper Sto Nisi, on 19/7/2022
Here is the original article.