DESCRIPTION OF THE SUCCESS STORY
I am serving as a school headmaster for the last 5 years in Messolongi. The school is located in an area with reducing economy. The last years the area has grown as a preferable place for immigrants. At the beginning there were Albanians but now there are plenty of Georgian and families from Kazakhstan. This is due to the low rental prices and the small distance of houses from the fields that they normally get a job.
Our government has decided to give to the immigrants economical motivations in order to send their children to school. In the past, parents used to find a job to their children, in most cases without any health insurance, in order to increase their family income.
The government decided to give something like a scholarship, for every immigrant child that applies to the Greek schools and stays in the Greek educational system for six years. The scholarship is paid 50% in advance of each semester and the rest 50% in the middle of the semester depending on students participation in school.
Ahir is a young girl from Kazakhstan. Her father arrived almost 10 years ago in Greece, and the rest of the family came, I think, three years ago. The parents work in the fields, something that Ahir did also in her first one and half year in Greece. Ahir’s family applied for the school, the school accepted their application (with favor) and Ahir’s family received the advance scholarship in cash.
Ahir really liked the new way of living….school in the morning, some work in the fields in the afternoon, studying in the evening. Actually, she was one of the usuall cases where the student despite her difficulties, keep improving beyond your expectations.
After 50 days at school, the family was facing some problems. New immigrants were coming to town, they got part of their jobs, their income has been reduced. The family was really starting to face economical problem. Foe this reason, Ahir came back to her morning work. She was also doing her usual afternoon job. Based on our law, a kid that make over 25% absences during a semester, should not continue with the rest of the classroom. Everybody knew that Ahir at the end should leave school. Leaving school would have an effect also to the family; They will miss the rest of the scholarship and according to the law, they should give back that advanced one. Muthar, Ahir’s father came to school and actually begged me to send fake evidence of his daughter participation in the class in order to keep on getting the scholarship.
From the beginning of school, Ahir has really made a great effort in order to be able to follow the rest of the class. The language disadvantage had actually disappeared and as I said earlier, she was really becoming “one of us”.
I was sure, that no fake evidence should be provided. I made a very short meeting with the rest of the school staff, and an idea came through. Ahir was really a tough girl. She could do a man’s job (actually this is what she has been all her life long in Greece). We decided to give her a morning job inside school. She was supposed to come almost 1 hour earlier and probably stay 1 more hour after the end of the school day and help in daily problems. She would have an income, she could follow the rest of the class, and the scholarship will be also guaranteed.
Ahir and her family really appreciated the offer and she managed to keep on with her studies. She stayed school and finished the class with ranks above the mean value. Unfortunately, she could not stay for another year in our school, she had to follow her family in another town, where her father found a new job.
Ahir’s case was a good ended story. It was really an emerging situation. In case she did not stay at school, this would probably be her school finish. I am not quite sure, what other options I could have. Based on my view our school community reacted very responsibly to the incident. There are times that the reaction of the community can provide solutions. I strongly believe that a community with strong links between them, able to overcome bureaucratical conflicts and willing to help, can really support many problems like that. The accuracy and the speed of reaction really gave a solution that was viable for Ahir’s proper integration to the normal school life.