Development Education in Greece
Greece emerged as an independent State in 1830 after four long centuries
of Ottoman rule at one third its present size, borderlines and population;
the first two (size and borderlines) expanded and stabilised over a hundred
year period right up to the Peace treaties signed after World War II.
The specific characteristics of the Greek people have been defined
and sharpened by the classical heritage, the language continuity, the Eastern
orthodox Christian values, the Mediterranean climate and the country's
geographical position. Namely, the average person has a keen sense of homogeneity,
a mentality of everyday interpersonal solidarity, together with an openness
and interested awareness towards what is happening in the world.
Three factors have enabled the Greek public to readily identify with
the people of the developing Third World countries: the absence of any
colonial tradition; a similar absence of Greek Orthodox missionary activity
similar to the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, and the tough challenges
posed to them at present by Greece's own development. These factors make
a good basis for global solidarity.
Today, Greece as a member of the European Community and the Council
of Europe brings its own strengths and weaknesses to the specific
issues of our times; such as
economic, social and political development;
development cooperation and solidarity with the emerging Third and Fourth
World nations of the 20th century;
coexsistence as seen within the context of the people from the Third World
now living and working in Europe.
The Social and Political Context
These concerns opened the way to post-World-War- Two Reconstruction and
Development in terms of GNP and growth of buying and consumer power. An
ever- widening social circle of individuals accessed the benefits of economic
growth, whilst upward mobility through educational opportunities was enhanced
for the following generations beyond the 1960s.
There has been a mass migratory movement first to the USA, and then,
as `guestworkers', to Western and Northern Europe, and later to Canada,
South America, Australia and New Zealand. This migration. saw Greeks of
lower and lowest incomes and education leaving their homes and country
in quest for a better future for themselves and their families.
Since the post 1950s, internal migration of the scattered rural
populations towards the urban centre has created large conglomerates and
cities with no infrastructure.
In addition to the mass movements of migrants, there have been repeated
intakes of Greek-descent refugees from Asia Minor (1923) and in
later years from Romania, Bulgaria, Egypt, Turkey and Russia.
One in three of today's nine and a half million Greeks in Greece has a
refugee origin. Together with the inward and outward migrants, they played
a major role in modernising the economy (agriculture, industry and
services) and radicalising the conservative political scene.
The merchant navy and `guestworker' remittances, together with the growth
of the tourist industry have been the main sources of national income.
Associative life has been an important factor in shaping Greek
society; it continues to be so. Both inside and outside the state sector,
the Greeks form societies- educational, welfare, cultural - whose activities
are often orientated towards the needs of their native village or township
in terms of roads, hospitals, schools, libraries, public parks and monuments.
NGDO-EC Liaison Committee: Development Education Group