On Thursday 19 April, in the presence of 935 pupils and 200 teachers from 17 Arsakeia Schools and 10 other schools from other parts of Greece, the 6th Panarsakeiako Student Congress opened its proceedings, with the title: “In a changing world: the right to education and the teaching of human rights.”

The Conference was declared open by UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Mrs Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, who stood beside the pupils, spoke with them and was informed in detail about the proceedings of the Congress.

The Congress takes place at the Arsakeia-Tositseia Schools in Ekali, on the occasion of the completion of 70 years since the Signing of the United Nations Universal Proclamation on Human Rights. It is based on the human rights educational program called “Speak Truth To Power”, is under the auspices of His Excellency the President of the Greek Republic Mr Prokopis Pavlopoulos and has the approval of the Ministry of Education. The program is implemented in Greece under the initiative of the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation in partnership with the “Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights” Foundation.

Welcoming Mrs Vardinoyannis, the President of the Society for the Promotion of education and Learning, Professor Georgios Babiniotis, stressed: “We are united in our fight and concern to do our utmost in the field of education in order to sensitize the new students about the issue of human rights. Yours are not just empty words. You have done significant work in the field of health with the creation of the Marianna V. Vardinoyiannis – ELPIDA Children’s Oncology Unit, but also in the field of education through the program “Speak Truth To Power”. You have an active input in this Congress. You have worked hard for it and we thank you for giving us the opportunity to get acquainted with this program on human rights. You should know that in you we see the personification of the Greek-mother who fights to defend human rights”.

For her part, Mrs Vardinoyiannis, after thanking Mr Babiniotis, addressed the children in the following terms: “My dear children, for you tomorrow has already begun, and it is of paramount importance that you get ready to properly handle the world that will fall into your hands. Remember to handle it through the prism of humaneness and justice, with respect towards your fellow human beings, with solidarity towards the weak and understanding of the uniqueness of each person. May you become first of all good people and citizens with a social consciousness.”

During the Congress, Mr John Heffernan, Executive Director of the program, “Speak Truth To Power” of the “Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights” Foundation, sent a brief greeting, through SKYPE, from Washington D.C.

Teachers and students showed Mrs Vardinoyiannis all the venues where the conference will be held while she also had the opportunity to admire the works of art the pupils made on the theme of human rights.

In the Congress scheduled to last until Friday 20 April, take part also the Arsakeia-Tositseia Schools of Psychiko, Ekali, Thessaloniki, Patras, Ioannina, and Tirana, as well as the Greek School of Imvros, the 8th Gymnasium and Lyceum of Halandri, the Costeas-Geitonas School CGS, the Anavryta Model Lyceum, the I.M. Panagiotopoulos School, the Kessaris School, the Athens College, the Anavyssos Gymnasium, and the Nea Genia Ziridis School. In addition, distinguished academics, men and women of letters and the arts, and representatives of social bodies, and humanitarian associations will also be present.