European, global and intercultural dimension in curriculum development
The international and European dimension in compulsory Greek education is reflected in the general principles as well as aims of the curricula, in the general and specific learning outcomes of specific thematic units that are developed in pre-school education, in the cognitive subjects and in the content of the textbooks that concern the primary school.
The general principles and objectives of compulsory education include, among others, the following: strengthening cultural and linguistic identity within a multicultural society, raising awareness of issues related to human rights, global peace and human dignity.
One of the objectives of curricula in pre-school and school education is to raise students' awareness on issues connected with cultural and religious diversity, gender equality, peaceful coexistence, multicultural societies and refugees as well as protection of the natural environment and adoption of an ecological awareness.
More specifically, the current curricula frameworks in primary education adopt and disseminate in all school subjects and thematic units the basic educational principles that promote the values of democracy and respect for cultural pluralism and human rights. According to the current curricula frameworks, it is necessary to promote the cultivation of citizenship at a national, European and international level alongside the preservation of our national identity and our cultural self-knowledge, as well as the development of a spirit of cooperation and collectivity.
In this context, the principles that are adopted frame the common future of European education, such as preserving the democratic nature of political life, freedom, tolerance, solidarity, cooperation, internationalism, justice, culture, employment, intellectual culture and social cohesion in open pluralist societies.
In the curriculum framework for nipiagogeio (pre-school education), it is emphasized, among others, that students should:
- Realise their uniqueness but also identify and respect their similarities and differences with others
- Develop feelings of solidarity, empathy and love for all.
In this context, students through appropriate activities understand their uniqueness as well as their similarities with other students. They are encouraged and urged:
- to share experiences,
- to learn about other people's way of life.
- to accept people with different linguistic, cultural or religious beliefs,
- to express their love and solidarity with their fellow human beings,
- to cooperate and build friendship bonds with them.
Introduction of the English language in the Kindergarten
In order to:
- strengthen the above framework,
- upgrade and modernize Kindergarten,
creative activities of an experiential nature in the English language were introduced in the Kindergarten instruction time (ministerial decision Φ.80378/ΓΔ4/2021).
The integration of the English language in the Kindergarten aims at the enrichment of its program - methodologically and thematically - in relation to the linguistic and round development of very young children for the strengthening of:
- the multilingual awareness
- the intercultural communication
and the formation of the active citizen identity in modern society.
21st century Skills Labs
From the school year 2021-2022 (ministerial decision Φ.31/94185/Δ1), the teaching unit titled "21st century Skills Labs" was introduced in the curriculum and in the weekly instruction time of all types of primary education, kindergartens and primary schools, in order to enhance in students the cultivation of:
- soft skills,
- life skills
- and technology and science skills.
The program and educational material of the "21st century Skills Labs" are grouped into four (4) Thematic Units:
- I live better – Well-being
- I take care of the Environment
- I am interested and Active - Social Empathy & Accountability
- Create & Innovate -Creative Thinking & Initiative.
The Thematic Units emerge from the Global Indicators of Sustainable Development (environment, well-being, security, civil society, modern technology and entrepreneurship).
As far as primary education is concerned, the aims and contents of the curriculum framework and the relevant school books address the thematic fields of the international and european dimension as well as the acceptance of cultural diversity through different school subjects such as:
- Modern Greek Language,
- Social and Political Studies,
- Foreign Languages,
- the Study of the Environment,
- Religious Studies (new curricula).
Parallel to the teaching of the afore-mentioned courses and in the context of interdisciplinarity, different school activity programs are implemented in accordance with the objectives of the curricula aiming to enrich the content of the above thematic units.
Such programs support, among other things, the development of social and communication skills, cooperation and participation of all in modern social developments, promoting mutual understanding and cooperation, so that every human being lives harmoniously within an environment of cultural, national and linguistic diversity.
Here follows an indicative reference to axes from the Curricula of the following courses:
Social and Political Studies:
- The individual and the European Union (EU: history of establishment - Member States: common characteristics and differences, the European citizen and their rights)
- The individual and the international community (cooperation among countries, international organizations, human rights)
- Awareness of the importance of the need for peace and coexistence of nations
- Recognizing the need for international cooperation
- Respect for the culture and traditions of all times and all nations
- The appreciation of the value of peace, freedom, cooperation of nations, the protection of the human rights of all individuals and the formation of a positive attitude towards them
- Understanding the place of language, in general, in the culture of a people and its importance for all nations
- The contact and acquaintance with other nations’ cultural elements of linguistic texture
- The appreciation and respect of other languages and the harmonious coexistence with people who speak other languages
- Familiarity with sample texts of Balkan and world literature
- The comparison between basic elements of the relevant cultural heritage with elements of cultures of other EU member states and third countries
- The appreciation and respect for the traditions and values of other cultures
- Recognizing that basic needs are the same for all people and for all children around the world
- The appreciation of the need for constant interaction among people around the world
- Familiarity with EU countries through awareness of the diversity of linguistic and cultural elements
- Recognizing the existence of different cultures and contact with key elements from the cultural heritage of other countries, mainly countries in Europe
- Awareness of the tragic consequences of war conflicts, which affect human life and the environment of the entire planet.
Health Education Programs
Moreover, every school year Health Education Programs are implemented in the primary and secondary education school units of the country. These Programs are related, among other things, to the cognitive objects of the Curricula utilizing the methodological tools of the interdisciplinary approach.
They are implemented on the basis of relevant circulars of the Ministry of Education, which are updated every school year and their topics consistently include issues related to the issue of acceptance of cultural diversity. During the implementation of the above-mentioned Programs, teachers utilize educational material approved by the Ministry of Education following an expert opinion/recommendation by the Institute of Educational Policy regarding its scientific validity, pedagogical value and purpose.
Educational programs, interventions and actions
In addition, for the information and awareness of students in various topics several educational programs, interventions and actions may be implemented, after the approval by the Ministry of Education, by educational and cultural institutions, Associations and Scientific Associations, University Institutions, Museums, Organisations, Public Benefit Institutions, Ministries and their supervised Bodies, Institutes and Research Centers, Services, Sports Federations, Hospitals, Bodies of Local Government, Bodies that have signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Ministry of Education or the Institute of Educational Policy, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)/ Intergovernmental Organizations, private Bodies with scientific, research, educational activity, etc. The acceptance of cultural diversity constitutes a theme in the field of topics of the above programs.
Compulsory lower secondary education
The school subjects that bring lower secondary education students in contact with European and international issues are primarily History, Modern Greek Language, Literature, Civic and Political Education, as well as Foreign Languages, whose teaching encompasses messages of foreign culture promoting in this way intercultural knowledge and understanding.
In particular, the Modern Greek Language school subject emphasises the inclusion and presence of Greece in the wider European and global political and social world through the teaching of relevant chapters that are part of the textbook of the Modern Greek Language of the grade C.
Modern Greek Literature includes texts of foreign literature scholars.
As regards the History curriculum of lower secondary schools, emphasis is placed on the teaching of Greek history, which is taught in all three grades, in the context of European and global history.
In the subject of Social and Political Studies, taught in the grade C of lower secondary schools, the European, international and intercultural dimension is particularly prominent. The main teaching objective for students is to enable them to participate as European citizens actively in the European life, being aware that they are at the same time Greek and European citizens, as well as to understand not only the interaction among countries and people, but also the necessity of organising international society.
As far as Religious Education is concerned and according to Ministerial Decision 31585/Δ2/2020 the goal of the specific school subject in lower secondary education is for students to turn into free and responsible citizens who respect the principles of democracy and human rights, and in this respect it is directly interlinked with the European, International & Intercultural Dimension in education.
Non-compulsory secondary education
New curricula that have been introduced and implemented in non-compulsory secondary education, integrate the European and international dimensions through general education subjects taught in both types of upper secondary schools (general and vocational).
In the framework of creative and experimental actions in upper secondary education, teachers are encouraged and supported through relevant educational material to develop issues related to the European identity, multiculturalism, globalisation and the protection of the environment.
In vocational upper secondary education schools (EPAL), teachers can implement a variety of programmes in the framework of specialisation group subjects (Creative Activity Zone, Research Project in Technology, School Vocational Guidance - Safety & Health at Work) in grade A of EPAL. These subjects, as well as other subjects in grades B and C provide students with opportunities to take creative initiatives and integrate into the educational act of international developments in science and evolution of the professions.
General education subjects in general lykeia engage students in European culture and European identity themes in order to familiarise them with the history and formation of the European identity. More specifically:
- Religious Education (grades A, B, C): The general objectives of the teaching of the school subject according to the Ministerial Decision 31603/Δ2/ 2020 (especially in the second grade of lower secondary education) refers to the information about the main religions around the world. The acquaintance of students with other religions as well as religious and non-religious worldviews, aims at cultivating the ability for dialogue, respect for otherness and harmonious coexistence with others.
- Ancient Greek Language and Literature (grades A and B): one of the general subject objectives is to highlight not only the 'European dimension' of antiquity, that is the achievements that played an instrumental role in the creation of the European civilisation, but also the role and contribution of other people and civilisations in these achievements
- Modern Greek Language and Literature (grades A, B, C): the subject’s main objective is to engage students in the literary works of our national and global heritage, consistent with humanitarian values and ideals. This is accomplished by introducing students into modern Greek, European and global literature. Teaching themes include Greek texts and foreign texts translated into modern Greek
- History (grades A, B, C): as part of the wider objective to foster historical thinking skills and awareness, students are invited to learn global history and examine its links with Greek history. Students are, also, invited to familiarise themselves with the complexities of the modern world and cultural diversity, and explore and appreciate intercultural relations between civilisations and their cultural contributions to the global civilisation
- Political Education (grade A): the subject includes the subjects of Economics, Political Institutions and Sociology and Principles of Law. Students are invited to gain knowledge on social, political and economic matters, understand and experience the interface economy-politics-law-sociology, learn about the fundamental institutions that relate to the structure and governance of the state, and develop critical thinking skills in order to actively participate in the local, national, european and global social, political and economic setting as free and responsible citizens
- Philosophy (grade B): the objective of this subject is to engage students in the fundamental principles of philosophy and its concepts, and the tools used by important philosophers worldwide in order to address questions and resolve human concerns.
With regard to specialisation group subjects, the following are the links with the European and international dimension:
- Economy: the objective of this subject is for students to understand the basic principles concerning economic science and use its tools, but also learn more about its international dimension through studying international economic relations
- Latin: through studying, understanding and translating Latin language texts, students become familiar with Roman literature texts
- Ancient Greek Language and Literature (grades B & C) - One of the most important course objectives is to emphasize the "European dimension" of antiquity, such as the achievements that contributed to the foundation of European culture, focusing on the rhetorical and philosophical discourse respectively.
Also, the new educational/teaching material that has been created for Foreign Languages (English, French, German of grades A, B, C of general upper secondary schools) include sections on topics as the European Union, multiculturalism and mutlilingualism, human rights, migration, refugee issues, European culture and art, etc.
Lastly, general education subjects taught in vocational upper secondary schools (EPAL) also reflect the European dimension and identity, as it is the case for general upper secondary schools (GEL).
Incoming child refugee flows into the country have led to a new reality in the field of education in Greece. Thus, in recent years the education of refugee children and their smooth integration into school structures has been the focus of the education policy of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. Law 4547/2018 regulates the education of refugee children. In addition, IEP has created special educational support material that is posted on the following link: http://www.iep.edu.gr/refugees/.
To support refugee education, IEP has developed an online platform for the collection and distribution of approved educational material. Also, actions are being implemented to train executives on intercultural education and the operation of the reception classes and to produce supportive educational material.
Finally, in order to support refugee education, the Institute for Educational Policy (IEP) has developed an open educational programme for the teaching of Greek in primary and secondary education reception classes.
Law 4415/2016 provides a framework for issues concerning the interaction and creative blending of the cultural, historical and social Greek feautures with those of the global, regional and domestic environment of the host countries. This law regulates issues concerning:
- The support of activities pertaining to the field of Greek education abroad with a view to "informing improvements in the quality of its services in order to meet the needs of Greek students living abroad and persons of Greek origin who wish to become familiar with the Greek language and Greek culture".
- Cross-cultural education, designed in such a way as to contribute towards "the formation of relationships among different communities for lifting inequalities and social exclusion".
Partnerships and networks
Both general and vocational and training education school units may implement Erasmus+ EU funding programmes during a school year, after they have been attributed authorisation by the national agency, the State Scholarships Foundation (IKY).
Erasmus+ aims at enforcing actions that have to do with synergies and cross-fertilisation, fostering innovation and creation of new ideas. Collaborating schools are enhanced to deal with common problems they face, like early school leaving, or low levels of basic skills and qualifications, to interact with their partners by practically removing artificial borders and to communicate with different fields of education and training.
It also stimulates new forms of cooperation and collaboration through the cross-national teachers' and students' mobility. Vocational education schools have the opportunity to promote synergies with other actors and create strong bonds between the fields of education and training and the world of work.
Greece is participating in the eTwinning action, a European initiative that enables schools in Europe to work together on collaborative projects using information and communication technologies (ICT). Schools are called to collaborate on issues with recognised pedagogical value but also be benefited both socially and culturally. E-Twinning action promotes school twinning as an opportunity for students to learn together, to share views and to make friendships.
Since 2014, eTwinning action has been integrated in Erasmus+ (2014-2020) providing significant support to any kind of collaborations between European schools. eTwinning is supported by the Central European Support Service(KYS) and a net of National Support Services (EYS), such as the Greek eTwinning Service, operated by the Institute of Computer Technology and Publications "DIOFANDOS".
E-Twinning projects can be performed either autonomously or integrated into other school projects (Cultural Projects, Environmental Education, Career Counselling, Health Education Programmes). Every school year, the relevant information circular is updated regarding the design and implementation of etwinning programs (Circular No.130715/ Η1/14-10-2021).
More specifically, the eTwinning action offers the opportunity to teachers, who are involved to the above-mentioned programmes, to share their projects and make them feel and be part of a European community beyond their country's borders.
Teachers can combine any project with eTwinning, use the eTwinning platform tools offered by the eTwinning net, collaborate with teachers from other European countries and also take part in eTwinning National or European competitions held every year.
Under the auspices of UNESCO, Greek schools and teachers are participating in the Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet). This programme is part of the global action programme on education for sustainable development.
The ASPnet-Associated Schools Project Network together with UNESCO, aims to promote international collaborations and peace through education and education’s human, cultural and international dimensions.
The institutes-members of this network (pre-primary schools, primary schools, gymnasia, lykeia, vocational lykeia) are working for achieving the sustainable development objectives with a main focus on objective 4, which refers to education. Schools-members of the ASPnet are encouraged to carry out interdisciplinary experimental projects, for one or more of the main case studies that relate to a wide range of interconnected individual subjects: ASPnet and the priorities of the United Nations, Education for Sustainable Development, Peace and Human Rights, intercultural learning and leading programmes such as "Global Cultural Heritage" and "Intangible Cultural Heritage".
Within the framework of the Associated Schools Project, the Greek National Committee for Unesco in collaboration with the Directorate of European and International Affairs have developed a school network (ASPnet). 150 school units of both primary and secondary education belong to this network and work together for the dissemination of the project, its interconnection with other Unesco’s members as well as the increase of schools’ participation, especially of schools located in Macedonia, the Aegean Sea and the borderland.