Multicultural Initial Teacher Training in Greece: Preparing Pre-Service Teachers for Migrant Education and Social Justice

Multicultural Initial Teacher Training in Greece: Preparing Pre-Service Teachers for Migrant Education and Social Justice

Panagiota Sotiropoulou, Eva Polymenakou
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8025-7.ch005
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


Greece's demography has changed rapidly over the last 30 years. Migrants now form a sizable population but are still persistently excluded from mainstream conceptualizations and representations of the national ‘we'. Moreover, although multicultural classrooms have also become the norm, migrant students still face significant educational inequities. This chapter argues that a major stepping stone towards changing this adverse reality can come from the initial teacher training provided to future educators in Greece. Drawing upon teacher trainees' narratives, this chapter critically reflects upon the multicultural initial teacher training currently offered in Greece in an attempt to highlight how multicultural experiential learning contributes to the preparation of more multiculturally competent future educators. Illustrating good practice examples and areas in need of improvement in the training currently offered, this chapter also provides transferable guidelines for the creation of effective multicultural teacher training, based on equity and social justice principles.
Chapter Preview


Over the last 30 years, Greece has transformed from an emigration country to a migrants’ destination (Triandafyllidou, 2000). The documented non-Greek nationals residing in the country increased from 1.6% of the total population in 1991 to 8% in 2020 (Hellenic Statistical Authority, 2020). Additionally, Greece has also received a great influx of undocumented migrants since 2014, the vast majority of whom comprise asylum seekers fleeing persecution from war-affected countries (Triandafyllidou, 2017). This transformation has had a significant impact on the country’s population makeup. Despite their noticeable presence in Greece over the last three decades, migrants have been persistently excluded from the mainstream conceptualizations and representations of the national ‘we’ (Gropas & Triandafyllidou, 2011). Instead they are perceived as an economic, security and cultural threat, embodying incompatible culturally diverse elements and threatening the alleged homogenous Greek society (Maronitis, 2017). Indeed, Greek society has been galvanized on ideals of a common national identity, based on the triptych of Greek descent, Greek language and Christian Orthodox religion (Kakos & Palaiologou, 2014).

The cumulative increase in the number of migrants present in the country has been keenly reflected in its student population, with multicultural classrooms now forming the norm rather than the exception (Stergiou & Simopoulos, 2019). Despite the established presence of migrant students in the Greek educational system, data reveal that they face significant educational inequities and several structural barriers. These include the sole use of Greek as the language of teaching instruction, educational curricula and textbooks that are not multiculturally responsive, neither representing nor acknowledging their cultures (Anagnostou & Nikolova, 2017). They also involve vastly ethnocentric educational policies that leave almost no room for revised multicultural understandings of belonging, while confusing social cohesion with assimilation (Sotiropoulou, 2020).

Is there any hope for changing the adverse reality pictured above? This chapter argues that a major stepping stone towards the creation of a more socially just and inclusive educational landscape in Greece can come from the bottom up; from the country’s future teachers (Kourti & Androussou, 2013) and the initial teacher training provided to them (Cochran-Smith et al., 2018). This is because future teachers are the agents who will interpret and enact educational curricula and policies (Benson & Fiarman, 2020). With education being currently officially recognized as one of the spaces in which “racial discrimination is felt most strongly” in Europe (European Commission, 2020, p.4), future educators can play an active role in creating educational spaces that are anti-racist and anti-biased (Benson & Fiarman, 2020; Kendi, 2019). Consequently, with adequate and appropriate training, future teachers could act as agents of educational change driven by anti-racist ideas (Kendi, 2019), through disrupting existing inequities present in the educational structures and materials in order to promote social justice and equal opportunities for all students (Benson & Fiarman, 2020; Cochran-Smith et al., 2018).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Pre-Service Teacher: Teacher trainee with little or no classroom experience.

Teacher Training: Professional preparation that must be undertaken at university level in order for a student to qualify as a teacher.

Community-Based Learning: A form of experiential learning that brings in contact people from formal educational institutions with people from the local community. It legitimizes every person as a potential source of learning for others.

Socially Just: Providing equitable opportunities to all in terms of access to wealth, health, well-being, and success.

Experiential Learning: Learning based on one’s own direct and indirect experiences. Learners’ emotions and self-reflection play a key role in the learning process.

Multicultural: Relating to or containing several cultural groups.

Preconceptions: Deeply-held and unproblematized beliefs formed before learning about or experiencing something/someone directly.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: