[Greece] 'Education is a basic human right', but how many refugees and asylum seekers have access to that right in Greece?

20 Feb 2019
Info Migrants

Education is a human right and according to the Greek Council for Refugees “the children of asylum seekers and children seeking international protection have access to the education system under similar conditions to Greek nationals." However, government in Greece has been struggling to provide education opportunities for asylum seeking children in this country. According to the UNHCR, around 8 000 refugee and asylum-seeking children were enrolled in Greek schools in 2017, and 3 000 more were recorded in 2018. The research of the Greece Education Sector Working Group (ESWG) done in February-March 2017 showed 58% of refugee children were involved in some form of education activity, with 22% of them attending public schools. 41% of refugee children was estimated to be outside the classroom, with the language as the main barrier identified.

According to the article “in mainland Greece, school attendance is higher for refugee and migrant children, for those on the islands, access to schools is still a challenge”. As a response, UNHCR partnered with ARSIS to open alternative education centers on some of the islands, which are meant to serve as a preparation for those children to enroll public schools in Greece. The latest of those alternative centers is KEDU on the island of Kos, which has around 100 children per day, and provides lessons on wide range of subjects, including science, arts, craft, mathematics, geography, history, Greek and English.

While the Greek administration is facing with the protests of local parents who insist refugee children should not attend public schools, one of the obstacles earlier was also resistance on the side of refugee children parents to send their children to school. The situation is changing and according to the Boris Cheshirkov, Associate Communication Officer with the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR in Greece “signs from the Greek government are ‘encouraging’”.

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