At the end of the school year for refugee children in Greece, the government “gets grades”

At the end of the school year for refugee children in Greece, the government “gets grades”

Despite positive efforts by the government in the last year, one-quarter of refugee children did not attend school according to a new report published today by three organizations in Greece.

Athens, July 18, 2022 – The government of Greece is still not meeting its obligations to ensure all children are enrolled and attending school, according to a new report published today by the Greek Council for Refugees, Terre des hommes Hellas, and Save the Children.

The report analyses six key indicators – a) enrolment, b) attendance, c) access to inclusive education, d) transportation to schools, e) adequate staffing and timely scheduling, and f) action to end community hostility and xenophobia - that had previously been identified as key barriers. For each of these, the government has been assigned a grade ranging from fully meeting its obligations (A) to deterioration of the situation from last year (Fail).

The report shows that the government has made improvements or significant improvements in some areas, compared to the 2020-2021 school year. However, government policies such as limiting access to asylum, stopping social support for asylum seekers, and refusing to provide food support to recognized refugees, rejected asylum seekers, and those who are not registered in the Reception and Identification System, have seriously worsened the living conditions of the families, because of which children's access to and attendance at school is also affected.

Eleni Pasia of the Greek Council for Refugees said  "the government is still far from fulfilling its obligations and must take urgent measures ahead of the next school year. In the first instance, it should enroll all children in public schools. But even enrolled children can’t attend school if there are no classes scheduled, teachers recruited or transportation organised, or if their families are destitute. We must see government action to address all these issues".

One of the children interviewed for the report, F., 15 from Afghanistan, explained the issues: “I do not go to school. I have been in Greece with my family for 3 years. We have been in Athens for the last year. Earlier for 2 years, we lived in Thessaloniki in Diavata camp, but we were not officially registered because there was no space. We lived in a tent. We were told that I will have the right to go to school from the moment we are officially registered”.

Melina Spathari of Terre des hommes Hellas says: "As the number of families without access to asylum increases, we find more and more families in despair and destitution, with constant anxiety about finding food, shelter, and the future. Without a roof over their heads, without work, and hungry, how are families going to manage to send their children to school?".

"It is clear there has been some progress on refugee and migrant education in the last year, but the government is still not meeting its obligations," said Daniel Gorevan of Save the Children, adding "The Greek government has the opportunity to build on progress and ensure no child is left behind, it should not waste it".

Notes for editors

For this report, the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR), Save the Children, and Terre des hommes Hellas/Tdh reviewed official statistics and data to measure the government’s performance in comparison to the previous school year. They also held 13 focused group discussions with a total of 53 children from 12 different countries, in the refugee structures of Ritsona and Lagkadikia, in the Intercultural Center "Pyxida" of the GCR, in the Reception Center for Asylum Applicants "Filoxeneio" of the Municipality of Thessaloniki and in the GCR office in Thessaloniki. Discussions were also held with parents, humanitarian professionals, and agencies such as UNICEF and the Ombudsman.

The three organizations include this initiative in the context of their more comprehensive action as the Advocacy Network for the Rights of the Child which consists of more than twenty civil society organizations. Together, they monitor the issues concerning children on the move and intervene at the national and European levels with the aim of all children enjoying their rights, as defined in the International Convention.

Read the entire Report here

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