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  • Writer's picturePippa

FINDING THE SILVER LINING



Goodbyes are sad occasions for everyone here but I brighten when I learn that one of our students is leaving the school to be reunited with family. Friday was C’s last day in my Red Book class. As an unaccompanied refugee minor he was eligible for the European family reunification program given that he has an adult sibling who is resident in another Council of Europe country.  C’s sibling is settled in Northern Europe and it’s a relief to think that C will be flying towards stability and success when he leaves Athens next week.


C had already achieved a high level of secondary education in his country of origin. When I first met him in the classroom this past January his English language assessment was at absolute beginner level. I was surprised because, in recent years, many countries include English  in  their national  curriculum. And there are plenty of fine English teachers all over the world regardless of what their first language might be. When I first asked C if he had studied English, I understood “bad teacher”, accompanied by a laugh and a shrug.  About 10 days ago I asked him again about the reason he never learned English at school and this time he was able to enlighten me more. Essentially, he had had such a bad English teacher that he never attended class. And that can happen in situations where educational funding is a low priority for about 12.5 million school-aged refugees worldwide.  In Right Where We Belong, Sarah Dryden-Peterson, an expert on the subject of refugee education, puts forward possible solutions towards improving educational standards for marginalized persons...if only governments would take heed. But that's another blog post.


Back to C. His attendance record has been regular in the time he’s been my student. And he now speaks English!


Helping refugee youth achieve successful learning outcomes is my silver lining.   


All the best to you, C, and thank you for coming to class!

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