Greek language and culture courses for refugees
The project in brief
The project is implemented by the School of Modern Greek, Faculty of Letters, University of Cyprus. Teaching refugees has been pursued by the SMG since its foundation in 1998. Scholarships for refugees are offered every semester.
The School of Modern Greek offers courses in Modern Greek language and culture to refugees, taught by experienced and highly qualified teachers. All courses, both face to face and online, are designed to help them integrate into Cypriot society. Students are entitled to use all the facilities of the University of Cyprus, such as the Sports Centre, the Computer Centre and the Library. Every year, the School of Modern Greek offers twenty (20) scholarships per semester to refugees.
The aim is to:
- Introduce the students to the Greek language and culture;
- Help them communicate in Greek, interact with local people and understand the mentality of their new country;
- Help them integrate into Cypriot society and find employment.
A total of 40 scholarships were offered by the SMG to refugees in the winter and spring semesters. These scholarships cover 100% of the tuition fees.
Main activities of the Good Practice
- Learning the Greek language in and out of class with books and games.
- Walking tours mainly to historical sites in Nicosia.
- Greek film festivals or small parties including food and dancing.
The GMG is under the auspices of the Faculty of Letters and has the full support of the services of the University of Cyprus. There are no other partners or sources of funding for this project.
What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?
The most common challenge for administrative and teaching staff is trying to communicate with people who do not speak European languages. The online translators are helpful to some extent. Everyone dedicates a lot of time to the new students. Very interesting and enriching, but also challenging for the teachers, are the different cultural backgrounds of the participants. Last but not least is the fact that 30% of the scholarship holders drop out. Although the reasons are sometime understandable, this is regrettable.
How they were overcome
The SMG has experienced and dedicated teachers willing to work individually with students. It is for this reason that the classes are kept small. The remarkable pass rate (95%) of these students in the exams and the excellent grades of many of them are proof of the effectiveness of the teaching methods. The school has set an amount of 40 euros to be paid by the scholarship holders as guarantee and insurance for the completion of the programme and participation in the exams.
Results of the Good Practice
The teachers of these classes often remark that these classes are a first step in the social integration of the refugees. They show interest in the Greek language and in local customs and traditions. Over time, they become more communicative and share their own traditions and culture with their classmates. They form strong bonds with the class and their teachers. Some of them have managed to pass the highest levels of Greek. The benefits to the lives of the refugees and to their host communities are clearly mutual.
In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
It is possible for refugees to become more self-resilient in Cyprus through the study of the Greek-language and through the acquisition of a job.
This has become an ongoing project since 1998 so it will continue.
Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?
More financial support would allow teachers to organize more activities.