According to Article 9 PD 220/2007, the minor children of applicants and children seeking international protection have access to the education system under similar conditions as Greek nationals, as long as there is no pending enforceable removal measure against them or their parents.1 Access to secondary education shall not be withheld for the sole reason that the child has reached the age of maturity.2
Children of citizens of a third country can enrol at public schools with incomplete documentation if they:
are granted refugee status by the Greek state;
come from regions where the situation is turbulent (έκρυθμη);
have filed an asylum claim; and
are third-country nationals residing in Greece, even if their legal residence has not been settled yet.3
Registration may not take longer than 3 months, of 1 year where special language training is provided to facilitate access to the education system.4
A Ministerial Decision issued in August 2016 provided the establishment of preparatory classes (Τάξη Υποδοχής) for all school-age children aged 4 to 15.5 This programme is implemented in public schools neighbouring camps or places of residence. According to the information provided by the Ministry of Education, children aged between 6-15 years, living in open temporary facilities, will be enrolled in afternoon preparatory classes from 14:00 to 18:00 in neighbouring public schools identified by the Ministry. They will be taught Greek as a second language, English language, mathematics, sports, arts and computer science. Their transport is organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
Children aged between 6-15 years, living in dispersed urban settings (such as relocation accommodation, squats, apartments, hotels, and reception centres for asylum seekers and unaccompanied children), may go to schools near their place of residence, to enrol in the morning classes alongside Greek children, in schools that will be identified by the Ministry. This is done with the aim of ensuring balanced distribution of children across selected schools, as well as across preparatory classes for migrant and refugee children where Greek is taught as a second language.6
Although the refugee education programme implemented by the Ministry of Education is highly welcome, its implementation rate is slow, while a significant gap remains in the provision of pre-school education, senior secondary (over the age of 15), higher education and vocational training. The education sector faces problems with regard to refugee children’s integration in Greek schools and a gap persists in meeting the needs of children who have missed years of schooling due to conflict or displacement and require catch-up programmes.7
In some cases, tension provoked by far-right groups and security issues for children accessing schools are reported in some areas. For example, there are reported problems in the Schisto camp due to the strong presence of the far-right party Golden Dawn in Perama, as a result of which IOM has established security procedures with bus drivers on what to do if there is a security risk for children they are transporting.8 In Oreokastro, near Thessaloniki, far-right groups demonstrated outside the building of the primary school on 17 February 2017, on the day when 15 refugee children were about to start schooling.9 On the other hand, in an important number of schools, activities have been organised in order to welcome refugee children.10
Finally, in addition to state organised educational activities, more than 80% of the accommodation sites are hosting informal education activities.11
- 1. Article 9(1) PD 220/2007.
- 2. Article 9(3) PD 220/2007.
- 3. Article 21(8) L 4251/2014 (Immigration Code).
- 4. Article 9(2) PD 220/2007.
- 5. Ministerial Decision 152360/ΓΔ4/2016, GG 3049/B/23-09-2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2lbVkGP.
- 6. Ministry of Education, Q&A for access to education for refugee children, 1 February 2017, available at: http://bit.ly/2maIzAv.
- 7. UNHCR, Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan for Europe, December 2016, 52.
- 8. National Education Sector Working Group, Minutes of Meeting of 23 January 2017, available at: http://bit.ly/2kPv88B.
- 9. Enikos, ‘Ένταση έξω από σχολείο στο Ωραιόκαστρο’, 17 February 2017, available in Greek at: http://bit.ly/2mfdzMi.
- 10. See e.g. Left.gr, ‘Θερμό καλωσόρισμα για τα προσφυγόπουλα στο 26ο δημοτικό σχολείο της Λάρισας’, 1 February 2017, available in Greek at: http://bit.ly/2mB0cs4; Alfavita, ‘Θερμό καλωσόρισμα στα προσφυγόπουλα στο 1ο Γυμνάσιο Συκεών Θεσσαλονίκης’, 25 January 2017, available in Greek at: http://bit.ly/2ndAQlH; Enikos, ‘Θερμό καλωσόρισμα των προσφύγων μαθητών στο Περιστέρι’, 20 February 2017, available in Greek at: http://bit.ly/2ndB6Bg.
- 11. UNHCR, Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan for Europe, December 2016, 50.