As students across Greece went back to school last week, The Hellenic Initiative Australia announced a grant to support 10 regional Greek schools to participate in The Tipping Point, more than tripling its support for the innovative education and youth empowerment program.
Following a successful pilot program with three schools last year, THI Australia is supporting an additional seven schools in 2020-21 – from the island of Lemnos to mountain villages in Western Macedonia.
The AU$26,000 (€16,000) grant focuses on schools located in disadvantaged areas and regional towns and villages in areas with high unemployment, high school dropout rates and brain drain due to lack of local opportunities.
THI Australia President Nicholas Pappas welcomed the support of several individuals and regional associations, whose partnership with THI Australia had enabled more schools to participate this year, including two Sydney families whose origins are from Crete (Evening Vocational High School of Platanias and Junior High School of Voukolies), the Panepirotic Federation of Australia and Toorak Law (Junior High School of Peta), the Federation of Messinian Organisations of Melbourne & Victoria, Pantrifilian Association of Melbourne and Victoria, Society of Kalamata “23rd March” and the Pammessinian Brotherhood “Papaflessas” (2nd Junior High School of Kalamata).
Tipping Point gives students access to career guidance and mentoring from highly skilled professionals from different fields from Greece and around the world, helping them make more informed education and career choices.
“Tipping Point is a brilliant example using digital technology in the classroom to inspire and empower students in even the most remote villages of Greece,” Pappas said. “We hope we can secure further support to continue the program at these schools next year and give more students across Greece the opportunity to benefit from this important program.”
In 2020-21, THI Australia is supporting the following schools:
Junior High School of Fourfouras, Crete
2nd Junior High School of Kalamata, Peloponnese
High School of Krinides, Eastern Macedonia
Vocational High School of Leros, South Aegean
High School of Moudros, Lemnos,
Junior High School of Peta, Epirus
Evening Vocational High School of Platanias, Crete
2nd Vocational School of Ptolemaida, Western Macedonia
High School of Vardas, Peloponnese
Junior High School of Voukolies, Crete
More than 8765 students at 295 high schools took part in the program in 2019-20 school year, supported by more than 294 professionals selected from a worldwide pool of more than 1600 mentors.
At the three schools funded by THI Australia last year, 185 students had participated in 30 live interactive classroom sessions, including some held with mentors from Australia.
“It was terrific to see students in a village in Greece connecting with a mentor in Melbourne,” Pappas said. “We hope to see more Australian professionals join Tipping Point’s mentor community.”
The Tipping Point Director Amalia Konstantakopoulou welcomed THI Australia’s increased support for the program, which was expanding into vocational high schools this year.
“Our goal is to help students broaden their horizons and expand their knowledge by interacting with role models around the world and making learning more experiential, engaging and relevant to real life,” she said. “Students really benefit from the opportunity to hear about the different mentors’ professional journeys and experience and get an insight into the many options and prospects that each field has.”
As well as providing career orientation for students during the critical ages of 15-18, Konstantakopoulou says the program had a broader impact on student learning, improving communication skills and boosting their confidence and critical thinking.
While the 2019-20 school year was disrupted by the global COVID-19 pandemic, Tipping Point was well placed with the tools and experience to continue the program remotely for students at home, as well as help schools transition to digital learning and provide valuable insights into new COVID-19 work environment.
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