The Learner Journal Collection offers an annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of The Learner Research Network.
The project on the inclusion and education of Muslim minority children is a twenty-year multimodal educational intervention that aims to fight school failure and promote social inclusion. The project in question comprises activities that belong to both formal and nonformal education. This article concentrates on those activities conducted outside the formal classroom. Set within the cross-fertilization of practice-invested theory with theoretically oriented practice, we focus on out-of-school second language acquisition, teaching Greek as a second language to learners up to the age of twelve, compensatory classes for secondary school students, and adult literacy, all framed within the concepts of community learning and of literacies as multiple and varied, relative to sociocultural context.
Language, as an emancipatory tool, was what the 22-year intervention with the historical Muslim minority in Greece was all about. Having one’s own mother tongue and culture valued, while being able to master the language of the country one is a citizen of, gives one a voice and hence the ability to claim an equal place in society. Education has been an arena of confrontation with deep historical roots, between the majority and the minority in Thrace, and this project brought people together, across ages and cultures that shared dialogues on issues that mattered. It was based on the conviction that education can challenge societal power relations and help rupture historical patterns of discrimination and exclusion. Hence its logo: “Addition not Subtraction, Multiplication not Division”. We, the authors of this paper, and many more, members of the majority and the minority, have worked collaboratively in all these years striving for learners’ empowerment via a wide range of educational initiatives inside and outside the classroom. A new space, informed by transformative education and community learning principles, was created for students’ personal, cognitive and academic development. We traversed a long and exciting journey, requiring commitment and persistence, whereby collaborative processes were encouraged, relational leading was adopted, creativity was enhanced, and mutual inquiry and joint action was reinforced. It has been an amazing experience for all those involved!
— Thalia Dragonas, Chara Dafermou, Maria Zografaki, Irini Asimakopoulou, Anastasia Dimitriou, Olga Katsiani, and Victoria Lagopoulou
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