First Bell Rings for Integration as Refugee Children Begin Attending Greek Schools
Children from five refugee camps in Greece begin to attend local schoolsNovember 14th, 2016
It was school time for hundreds of migrant and refugee children living in camps in Greece on Monday, 10th October. Around 1500 children began attending school for four hours every day in the afternoons, taking place after the regular classes for Greek children.
Students of all ages queued up behind the camp gates and waited for the chartered buses scheduled to transport them to nearby schools to arrive at 2pm.
On their first day, refugee students stayed at school for only two hours, but their daily schedule will run from 2pm to 6pm. The children will have special classes to include Greek language courses, in addition to English, Mathematics and arts.
The migrant children will be integrated into Greek children’s classrooms when they have learned the Greek language and can comfortably follow lessons.
About 10 teachers volunteered to teach the children Greek, mathematics and art during their four-hour school day. “We will embrace the children of the refugees. They are just like all other children”, the school’s representative said.
“The children should not be ghettoized in our country, but instead conditions should be created so that they can play, grow up and be educated with Greek children as long as they remain in Greece”, Education Minister Nikos Filis told a news conference outlining the program last week.
A Greek woman who is the mother of three children said, “education is for all the children, without discrimination. Our society here is open and we have embraced the world”. A grandfather standing nearby, waiting to pick up his grandson, said all children in the world are the same: “why shouldn’t they come to school? There’s no problem”.
The aim of the scheme was to educate 18,000 refugee children by the end of September across 20 schools in Greece, but that target has now been modified to 10,000 by the end of October.