|Author(s)||Panagiotis Moustairas, Julia Spinthourakis|
|Editor||A. Ross, Teaching Citizenship|
Partly because of the many social, political and economic changes that have taken place in the Balkans and the former USSR since the early 1990s there have been massive movements of political and economic immigrants to economically vigorous and politically stable countries. Greece, as a member of the European Union with economic and political stability, has been host to a great number of these. The Greek state, society in general and the educational system have faced the influx of these numerous multicultural groups: they found themselves unable to react in an organised manner for several years. More recently the main problem faced by Greek society and the Greek educational system remains the acceptance of and co-existence with students deemed to be ‘other’ and/or ‘different’ (see Kossivakis and Dendias 2003). Education is one of the areas of Greek social life that suffered major turbulence from this immigration. The modification of the structure and quality of the population of Greek schools was not dealt with successfully by the Greek educational system. This phenomenon is complex and multifaceted, concerning not only the education system, but society as a whole (Petrucijova, 2004): it creates multiple reactions and generates phenomena such as racially discriminatory and xenophobic tendencies (Spinthourakis, Moustairas, Skartsilas and Synesiou, 2000). In this paper we attempt a comparative estimation of foreign and homecoming students that have attended primary schools in the Prefecture of Argolida since 1990. Greece, which, in the past has served as a diaspora country, has in recent years seen thousands returning: these individuals were termed the ‘homecoming’ (epanapatrizomeni) population. We attempt to ascertain whether the great difficulties observed in the early 1990s continue today, and if not, what factors have helped to ameliorate the situation. What were the experiences of primary education teachers during the influx of these students into the education system? What aspects of citizenship education practices followed in the past have changed and what sort of practices are used today? Was there any further education and support provided by the institutional educational agents (i.e. state school counsellors)? Furthermore, is there any evidence that this amelioration, if indeed there was any, shows that the Greek educational system has adapted to and/or accepted the principles of intercultural (multicultural) education as expressed by national legislation (National Gazette –ΦEK– 2413/96), or was it the result of other reasons and/or coincidence?