The School has nine classes, 250 students, and 18 teachers. Students at the school come from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Congo, Somalia, and Afghanistan. The school's teachers are composed entirely of women and men from the camps, refugees themselves, who choose each and every day to take responsibility and educate the future generation. The classrooms are divided by the native language and age. The students learn English, Math, mother tongue, Greek, and other skills, such as sports, art, life-skills and gardening. Everything is taught by teachers who speak their students’ language. More broadly, the School’s pedagogy is rooted in a belief that our students are best motivated and inspired by the adults who come from their own culture.
The school is located outside the camps in the "One Happy Family" community center After a short ride on the school bus, students arrive to the school, receive a hot meal at the beginning of the day, and one at the end. They learn and play together, and sometime quarrel with each other. But most importantly, they form new friendships, and bridges between cultures, between nations. All of this happens with the support and guidance of the teachers who, together with the students, manage to overcome almost every conflict. Hardship and challenge meet love, faith and the safety of educational borders. Our goal is to uphold one of the basic rights of every man and woman in the world – the right to education.
Moreover, we work every day to build a common ground between the different groups and peoples that create the school community and towards the realization of the belief that this combination is possible. We insist on calling what we do " education of peace " and not "education for peace". "Education for peace" holds future potential for peace, our school is a shared and conscious fulfillment of a community-wide educational space which has an inner code of society in peace in all its fields.
"For me, learning in school is divided into two parts - one part focuses on respect, collaboration and friendship. The second part focuses on the subjects we study - English account mother tongue, Greek and sports. I love both parts equally!"
Miriam, 14, Syria
The School Spirit
There are currently about 70 million refugees in the world, more than half of them under the age of 18. Most of these children did not have an opportunity to study at school and access education, and some do not even know how to write their own name or count to ten. Around the world this generation is often called "The Lost Generation” but those children are willing and inquisitive, thirsty for childhood experiences and a human touch, they dream of a good life in their homeland, and about what they will do when they'll grow up. They want to love and be proud of themselves and their families. They want hope.
This generation is not lost. Tt is our future generation, the future leaders of their communities, and of the world. As such, our students deserve the well-rounded and comprehensive education.
The school emphasizes that there must be a place for all the cultures that are represented at the school, while also offering preparation for the European cultures that they might encounter in the future. When this premise exists, then every student and teacher has the confidence that he or she is being seen as a fellow human being, that there is a place for them, a place where they can express their identity. This new reality slowly replaces the survival mindset that everyone enters when they first arrive to the island.
Instead of reiterating the refugee reality in which there is no expression of the students’ identity, the school chooses to recognize and honor their cultures, to emphasize their individuality. This approach returns the power and control to the hands of the community, opens the possibility for the teachers and youth to embrace their place as leaders and inspirational motivators among their peers, and makes it possible for children to be children and for parents to return to their place as heads of the families. School is a home for the community. On every holiday of the different religions the school celebrates together with songs and dances from all the cultures. At the school we always welcome men and women of the community to be part of the school, to get advice and receive help.
Every classroom in the school bears the name of an animal that was chosen by the students themselves. This is how you can find the Tiger class, Dragon, Lion, and Dolphin. We believe that learning is not about sitting in the classroom in front of a board. In order to learn, we also have to get out of classroom: experience, experiment, and practice together – work in the garden, play during the break, and build projects with new friends. Exercise and play team sports, learn how to work together in a group, prepare dinner, learn of different cultures and what happens if we fight, if you don't agree with each other, and if one doesn't get what he or she wants.
Learning in the school is a holistic experience. We try to provide the best tools and space to practice and study. The curriculum is built around weekly themes, which facilitate meetings of different classes and languages through games and healthy competition. Each Friday, students from the upper classes guide the young classrooms in various activities. This is part of the leadership program that develops young adults as the agents of change in the school and as role models for younger students.
"For me the study in the school is divided into two parts – one part: honor, cooperation and friendship. The second part focuses on the subject we learn -English, Greek, and sports. I like the two parts equally!" (Miriam 14, Syria)
A Day at the School of Peace:
Starting the Day
Teacher and staff meetings
Buses to school
What Do We Learn?
Greek lessons, English, Mathematics, Mother Tongue, Sports, Music, Theatre and Life Skills
Cleaning and organizing the School
Busses back to the refugee camps
Adult Education Program
Before the children start their school day, the school complex is a home for a school for adults. Over 200 350 men and women from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Congo, Somalia, and The Ivory Coast are the students. The school is the joint project with our partners from the One Happy Family Community Center. The Adult School works in a similar format to the school for Children: teachers and coordinators are refugees themselves, and come from the same communities and the cultures as the students. The teaching focuses on language training: the School offers three levels of Survival English for beginners, starting from the alphabet, two levels of conversational English for students with some fundamental knowledge, and two levels of Greek.
The Adult School completes our work at the children's school and produces a holistic framework in which there is equal access to language studies for children and adults. The acquisition of a language enables the adult’s return to their role of a guardian and creates opportunities for teachers and parents from the refugee community to function as leaders among their peers and across the society, to narrow the language gap, and to reduce the gap of opportunities.
We often picture refugees as people with no identities, but our school community, in the children's school and the adults school is filled with personalities, color and a variety of human talents. Builders, carpenters, designers, actors, athletes and so much more come together to study at the adult school, to learn how to communicate, how to express their dreams and to learn together how to make them a reality.