Access to education

Greece

Country Report: Access to education Last updated: 30/11/20

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Greek Council for Refugees Visit Website

According to Article 51 IPA, asylum-seeking children are required to attend primary and secondary school under the public education system under similar conditions as Greek nationals. Contrary to the previous provision,[1] the IPA does not mention education as a right but as an obligation. Facilitation is provided in case of incomplete documentation, as long as no removal measure against them or their parents is actually enforced. Access to secondary education shall not be withheld for the sole reason that the child has reached the age of maturity.  Registration may not take longer than 3 months from the identification of the child.

A Ministerial Decision issued in August 2016, which was repealed in November 2016 by a Joint Ministerial Decision, established a programme of afternoon preparatory classes (Δομές Υποδοχής και Εκπαίδευσης Προσφύγων, DYEP) for all school-aged children aged 4 to 15.[2] The programme is implemented in public schools neighbouring camps or places of residence, with the location and operationalisation of the afternoon preparatory classes being subject to the yearly issuance of a Joint Ministerial Decision (exceptionally a Decision by the Minister of Education). Such decisions have been respectively issued for each school year in January and November 2017, August 2018 and October 2019, for school years 2016-2017, up to 2019-2020.

Children aged between 6-15 years, living in dispersed urban settings (such as UNHCR 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, at 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.[3]

Although the refugee education programme implemented by the Ministry of Education is highly welcome, the school attendance rate should be reinforced, while special action should be taken in order for children remaining on the islands to be guaranteed access to education.

In October 2019, the estimated number of refugee and migrant children in Greece was 37,000, among whom 4,686 were unaccompanied. Out of the number of children present in Greece, it was estimated that only a third (12,800-12,900) of refugee and migrant children of school age (4-17 years old) were enrolled in formal education during the school year 2018-2019.  The rate of school attendance was higher for those children living in apartments and for unaccompanied children benefitting from reception conditions (67%).[4]

At the beginning of September 2019, children’s’ access to education was further complicated by the lack of an official system for transportation between camps and schools and the reported delay in issuing the necessary Ministerial Decision for the operationalization of DYEPs.[5] Obstacles (see Health) in issuing a Social Security Number (AMKA), which serves as a pre-requisite for getting vaccination and in turn enrolling to schools, were also an impediment to school attendance. [6]

According to the Deputy Minister of Education, in December 2019, the number of children enrolled in formal education during the school year 2019-2020 was 8,000, i.e. 5,000 children less than the previous school year.[7]

The vast majority of children on the Eastern Aegean islands, where they have to remain for prolonged periods under a geographical restriction together with their parents or until an accommodation place is found in the case of unaccompanied children, do not have access to formal education.

Regarding the school year 2019-2020, as far as GCR is aware no afternoon preparatory classes (DYEP) were taking place in the Northern Aegean islands by the end of 2019.

As reported by UNHCR, “there are significant constraints for children to access formal education and only a limited number of children seeking protection residing in the RICs attend public schools on the islands. As of 30 June 2019, the 1,625 children (ages 5 to 17 including UAC) residing in Moria on Lesvos have no access to formal education”.[8] In August 2019, out of the total number of school-aged children on the islands, only 1 in 4 had access to public education.[9]

In May 2019, following a Collective Complaint lodged by ECRE and ICJ, with the support of GCR, before the European Committee for Social Rights of the Council of Europe (ECSR), the ECSR has granted immediate measures and indicated to the Greek Authorities to ensure access to education.[10]

 


[1] Article 13 L 4540/2018.

[2] Joint Ministerial Decision 180647/ΓΔ4/2016, GG 3502/2016/Β/31-10-2016, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/36W3cDn.

[3]Ministry of Education, Q&A for access to education for refugee children, 1 February 2017, available at: http://bit.ly/2maIzAv.

[4] UNICEF, Refugee and migrant children in Greece as of 31 October 2019, available at: https://uni.cf/2Sloe92.

[5] Efsyn, ‘Parliamentarians question on refugee children’s’ access to education’, 20 September 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/3bcovnB.

[6] GCR, ‘Beginning of the school year for refugee children as well? There is need for immediate state measures’, 12 September 2019, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/37XGagP.

[7] Efsyn.gr, ‘5.000 προσφυγόπουλα εκτός εκπαίδευσης’, 9 December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2xkjElc.

[8]  UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Submission by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the case of International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) v. Greece (Complaint No. 173/2018) before the European Committee of Social Rights, 9 August 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2vKDQeE

[9] UNHCR, ‘The majority of children refugees on the Greek islands do not go to school, 29 August 2019, available (in Greek) at: https://bit.ly/3bc9sdm

[10]  ECSR, Decision on admissibility and on immediate measures, International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) v. Greece, Complaint No.173/2018, 23 May 2019.  

 

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation