Excluded and Segregated

The vanishing education of refugee children in Greece​


Excluded and Segregated

The vanishing education of refugee children in Greece

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Executive Summary

Excluded and Segregated. The vanishing education of refugee children in Greece
Read the summary here

Introduction

The exclusion of refugee children[1] from the Greek education system reached record levels during the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting reactions from across the education sector, Μembers of Parliament and civil society.[2] Many children have been unable to attend school for over a year, while others have never managed to enrol. At the same time, worrying emerging discourse promotes education of refugee children solely through non-formal education inside Reception and Identification Centres (RIC) and camps.

From 15 January to 15 February 2021,[3] Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) interviewed 13 education professionals working with refugee children in different regions (Lesvos, Samos, Attica, Evia, Kilkis, Preveza, Thessaloniki), as well as 13 families living in reception facilities, i.e. RIC on the Aegean islands and camps on the mainland, in apartments, or outside of the reception system.[4] All interviewed parents stated that education of their children is their major concern following safety and health. All had only temporary or no access to education back home, as war and conflict disrupted their daily lives and the authorities often discriminated against girls’ education. Despite the difficulties, their children had in all cases been to school in their country of origin, sometimes facing disruptions of attendance due to war or individual persecution. Parents stated that they wished for their children to go to school in order to be able to build their own lives and become active members of the societies they live in now. 

In this report, RSA tracks barriers to refugee education stemming from problems in the implementation of the dedicated framework activated by Greece in 2016. It then discusses the aggravating role played by wider deficiencies in the asylum procedure and reception system of the country, coupled with xenophobic stances at school, local and regional level, and the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical access to schools and remote learning for refugee children.


The framework for education of refugees in Greece


The framework for education of refugees in Greece

The International Protection Act (IPA)[5] frames as an education as a right and an obligation on children seeking asylum in Greece, adding that children that do not enrol on or attend classes because they do not wish to join the education system shall face reduction of material reception conditions, while parents shall face the same sanctions applicable to Greek citizens.[6]

It was not until 2016 that the Ministry of Education took tangible measures with a view to systematically including refugee children in the national education system, following the containment of thousands of refugees after the closure of the “Balkan route”. A specific framework, drawn through a combination of old and new legislation and regulations in the form of Joint Ministerial Decisions (Κοινές Υπουργικές Αποφάσεις, KYA), specifically targeted refugee children starting a transitional plan for the school year 2016-2017 and a full plan for the year 2017-2018.[7]

The education system for refugee children contains three features:

  1. Kindergarten inside RIC and mainland camps;
  2. Reception Facilities for Refugee Education (Δομές Υποδοχής για την Εκπαίδευση Προσφύγων, DYEP) to prepare children living in Reception and Identification Centres (RIC) and mainland camps for regular classes. DYEP consist of afternoon classes on the premises of primary and secondary public schools;
  3. Reception Classes (Τάξεις Υποδοχής, TY) within Educational Priority Zones (Ζώνες Εκπαιδευτικής Προτεραιότητας, ZEP) addressing children who lack the necessary Greek language skills to fully integrate into the education system without additional support.[8] In the ZEP, students follow the mainstream curriculum alongside Greek peers in morning classes, and take 3 hours of preparatory classes focusing on the Greek language. ZEP are divided into ZEP I (no or basic knowledge of Greek) and ZEP II (moderate knowledge of Greek) courses.

The framework is supplemented by the appointment of Refugee Education Coordinators (Συντονιστές Εκπαίδευσης Προσφύγων, SEP)[9] who act as a bridge between the education system and refugee families residing in RIC, mainland camps and urban areas.

Intercultural education experts highlight that the establishment of DYEP has created a “segregated school for a particular number of students”. They also note that in many cases ZEP have been transformed into a segregated system in practice.[10]

Education statistics: decreasing enrolment rates

Education statistics: decreasing enrolment rates

In previous years, the Ministry of Education published statistical information on education of refugee children.[11] According to data for the school year 2018-2019, the number of enrolled refugee children was as follows:

However, after the current government took office in July 2019, the Ministry stopped proactively publishing statistics on the number of refugee children integrated in the education system. Limited information has, however, been made available in response to questions inter alia from Members of Parliament[12] and the Greek Federation of Secondary Education State School Teachers (Ομοσπονδία Λειτουργών Μέσης Εκπαίδευσης, OLME).[13] In response to a parliamentary question, Deputy Minister of Education Zetta Makri stated on 8 March 2021 that, according to the “My School” database, 8,637 asylum-seeking children were enrolled in public schools for the school year 2020-2021:

Though the Deputy Minister referred specifically to “asylum-seeking children”, it is assumed that the number covers children with international protection status, in line with previous Ministry of Education statistical practice.

The Ministry does not provide figures on the number of school-age refugee children in the country. According to UN figures,[14] the overall estimated number of refugee children present in the country has increased from 27,000 at the end of 2018 to 44,000 at the end of 2020.[15]

Available statistics demonstrate a sharp and rapid drop in enrolments of refugee children in public schools over the past two years, from 12,867 in June 2019 to 8,000 already in December 2019,[16] to 8,637 in March 2021.

It is important to stress that enrolment in school does not mean attendance. According to the Ministry of Education, 7,769 (90%) of the 8,637 children enrolled as of March 2021 attend primary and secondary education classes in person.[17] However, professionals interviewed by RSA estimate a deterioration of the situation and stress that actual school attendance is at a dramatic low.[18]

At the time of writing, only 2 out of the 35 school-age children whose cases have been documented by RSA had access to formal education through remote learning. 20 of the children had never been to school. Due to their exclusion from the education system, the children mostly learned alone or with the help of their parents on their mobile phones or resorted to self-organised classes taught by other refugees in camps or private homes. Some families stated that their children occasionally participated in non-formal education activities inside the RIC or mainland camps.


Deficiencies in design and implementation


DEFICIENCIES IN DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION

Establishment and staffing of classes

The education framework operates based on annually updated regulations setting out a list of TY-ZEP and DYEP. Preferably by the end of the school year, parents and SEP supply to each school the number of pupils they wish to enrol for the upcoming school year. The school principal then passes on the figures to the Ministry of Education which establishes by way of Ministerial Decision the list of schools operating TY-ZEP and DYEP. Teaching positions are advertised after the list of classes has been published on the Government Gazette. Interviewees described the design of the process as ineffective, since it disregards the predictable arrivals of many asylum seekers during or after the summer period. As a result, the number of classes may have to be adjusted in the course of the school year through an amending Ministerial Decision in order for additional TY-ZEP and DYEP to be established and for new teaching positions to be filled.

Whereas the lists of TY-ZEP I and DYEP for the school year 2020-2021 were established in August 2020 and the list of TY-ZEP II in October 2020,[19] the recruitment notice for 460 substitute teachers in TY-ZEP and 302 substitute teachers in DYEP was not published until 15 December 2020,[20] and the recruitment of kindergarten staff in camps had not been announced.[21] Professionals interviewed by RSA explained that TY-ZEP II for secondary education and most DYEP were only staffed by the end of December 2020, while some kindergartens within camps are still not operational. In certain areas such as Samos, no positions for DYEP had been advertised by the end of January 2021.[22]

Lessons learned over the last four years have not been taken into account by the system, according to interviewees. Some substitute teachers reject offers upon receiving the announcement of the location and tasks of their assignment. This is notably the case for DYEP teachers who are often employed part-time or for few hours and cannot afford to relocate far from their home. The process envisages the possibility to nominate alternative teachers for those posts, yet that stage may take weeks or even months.

Interviewees also point out that the number of recruited teachers remains insufficient. In addition, many substitute teachers were requested to assist in Greek-speaking classes at the beginning of the school year and never reached the reception classes. As a result, some children enrolled in reception classes in primary public schools this school year could only participate in regular classes without being able to follow or to interact with their peers.

“The first time they sent us children from the camp to school… we were only children from the camp. There was nobody else in the school. We didn’t see the Greek children or other teachers. Only our teacher. We only learned a little bit of ‘hello, how are you?’… It was not like school… Now I started going to a morning school with Greek children. Many children from my camp go there. I like it a lot. The Greek children only say ‘hi’ to me but we don’t speak and they don’t play with us from the camp. Since very little time, we got a special teacher, who takes us out from class and teaches eight children from the camp separately. Until she came, I was only sitting in the classroom not doing anything. I couldn’t understand. Nobody asked me something or told me to do something… The Greek children were doing exercises and had homework, but I didn’t. In the breaks, the Afghan children sit at the side while the others play… I have no Greek friends. I wish I had. I would love to have one friend… I love learning. I am very determined. I’ve wanted to become a doctor, a pathologist since I was very small.”

(F*, 10-year Afghan girl, Schisto).[23]

Furthermore, high turnover among substitute teachers in TY-ZEP and DYEP undermines quality and stability in the education of refugee children. As explained by interviewees, teaching staff costs for TY-ZEP and DYEP are not included in the annual budget of the Ministry of Education. The teachers hired for TY-ZEP and DYEP are substitute staff selected from Ministry lists of candidates. They are selected according to a points system, which does not include criteria such as prior experience in working with refugees, minority groups or in teaching Greek as a second language. Teachers change every year. Professionals interviewed by RSA noted that there is no procedure allowing teachers to remain in the same position after one year despite their wish to remain and any experience gained.

Transport arrangements

“The first thing we did was to request that our children go to school. But the employees said: ‘We are far from the city. We cannot bring your children to school. We have no transportation.’”

(J*, Afghan father, Athens)[24]
The location of refugee camps poses in itself a challenge to education, as recently noted by the Ministry of Education in Parliament.[25] Even in cases where the necessary infrastructure and human resources have been set in public schools, means to transport refugee children to the schools may be unavailable or insufficient. Until last year, the government allocated available funding to IOM to arrange bus transport from camps,[26] often located more than 10km away from the nearest school. Currently, prefectures are responsible to provide for transport where needed. Education professionals told RSA that delays on the part of the competent authorities, partly due to inconsistent information on whether or not transport arrangements should be made after the start of TY-ZEP and DYEP, led to an absence of bus services several weeks into the school year. In Ritsona camp, only three out of thirteen needed buses had been arranged by early April 2021. In a few reported cases, regular school buses did not accept children from refugee camps, citing COVID-19 risks. Due to the absence of transport arrangements, many teachers tasked with teaching refugee children were never able to reach them.

“It is two years I have not been to school. The only classes I visit in Ritsona are run by friends and neighbours… We help ourselves because they don’t bring us to school here. I have to sit in the front table to be able to read a little bit. From the first day, I asked the organisations here to enrol me and my sister to school. They told me: ‘Go back to your container and wait for us to come. They haven’t come… I feel paralysed… I thought in Greece I could start learning again. I feel every day I am getting more far from my dreams.”

(Z*, 18-year-old Afghan girl, Ritsona camp).[27]

Risks of drop-out

Greek law sets out a maximum of 114 permitted absences per school year for secondary schools.[28] Refugee children risk having to repeat the school year due to a high number of involuntary absences. Many have reportedly exceeded the limit of 114 absences due to delays in the roll-out of TY-ZEP and DYEP. Obstacles to accessing schools and/or remote learning on account of the COVID-19 pandemic or of the requirements of the asylum procedure, as discussed below, have exacerbated the problem.

The Ministry of Education has previously issued circulars retroactively cancelling absences for refugee children on account of the delayed start of TY-ZEP and DYEP for the past two school years.[29] No such circular has been issued for the school year 2020-2021 at the time of writing.

Overlap between ZEP and mainstream classes

Education professionals explained that the current structure of ZEP classes which group together pupils from different classes and ages hampers attendance., since ZEP classes run in parallel to mainstream classes. Children attending ZEP classes are therefore unable to attend mainstream classes held at the same time.[30]

The Ministry of Education has previously issued circulars retroactively cancelling absences for refugee children on account of the delayed start of TY-ZEP and DYEP for the past two school years.[29] No such circular has been issued for the school year 2020-2021 at the time of writing.


Aggravating circumstances in the asylum system

Aggravating circumstances in the asylum system

Barriers in the asylum procedure

The IPA requires the authorities to enrol children within 3 months from their identification upon arrival in the country.[31] However, children arriving through the land border face delays of several months before they can be registered and obtain the necessary documentation to enrol in public schools e.g. identity documents, proof of permanent address.[32] Though the law provides for facilitation where people face difficulties in supplying the relevant documents,[33] parents interviewed by RSA noted that this is not applied in practice most of the time.

Moreover, education professionals told RSA that people living in camps as unregistered residents cannot be assisted in accessing education,[34] since no guidance is provided regarding the treatment of this population group.

An Afghan family with seven children, arriving at the end of 2019 via land, reached Diavata camp to find shelter after they were released from the RIC of Fylakio, Evros. Since then, their children have not gone to school.

“The first month we stayed in a small tent. It was very cold. Then we stayed two months in a rub-hall before we got transferred to a container. We were… registered and now we wait for our interview. Our asylum interview is in 2022… My children were vaccinated but have not been able to go to school. We asked many times inside the camp about the school. They always tell us there is no school because of Corona or because there are no teachers…”

(R*, Afghan father, Diavata camp).[35]

In addition, children navigating the asylum procedure often miss school when they have to attend appointments with the Asylum Service or assist their parents with interpretation when visiting public services or hospitals.

Precarious living conditions

Due to the fast-track border procedure applied over the past five years as a result of the EU-Turkey deal,[36] people arriving on one of the Eastern Aegean islands have their freedom of movement restricted within the island. At the end of 2020, as many as 3,800 school-age children resided in the RIC of Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Leros and Kos under inhuman conditions.[37]

“The prolonged stay of children in refugee camps with difficult living conditions, cut off from education, balanced cognitive and psychological development and social interaction is a crucial issue. Along with the prolonged exposure to overcrowding conditions, that remove any privacy, reinforce the fear for safety and health, while at the same time physically and psychologically exhausting the most resilient body, this prolonged stay constitutes a traumatic experience for these people. The vast majority of children of refugee origin in our country, especially children living in the reception and identification structures of the islands, are deprived of the right to education, remaining invisible and helpless until their future is judged through time-consuming and often opaque procedures. Due to the pandemic and the way it is handled, children’s lack of access to education is reinforced. To this one should add the dire conditions of confinement; material deprivation as well as deprivation of intellectual stimuli; and the fact that they are deemed unwanted and dangerous third-class people, for whom simple survival is considered a very satisfactory goal,”

(Lida Stergiou, Associate Professor of Intercultural Education, Department of Preschool Education, University of Ioannina).[38]
The vast majority of children cannot access education, even non-formal education, during their stay in the RIC.

“In the tent (in Moria) we couldn’t study. In summer it was too hot, in winter too cold. We had to spend many hours in queues. We couldn’t sleep calm, because there were fights and fires. We often woke up from the sound of screams. Sometimes the police came and beat people and threw tear gas when there were fights or protests. We were never feeling safe or calm.”

(H*, 11-year-old Afghan boy).[39]

The few children that have managed to enrol in public schools on the islands face difficulties as well. S*, who lives in a tent outside the RIC of Samos, is one of the very few children attending school out of about 600 school-age children in the RIC of the island. He and his siblings started school 13 months after their arrival.

“In the morning I have to walk to the camp and get water from there. Then I bring it back to the jungle. We make it hot on the fire and shower… In the night, when it is dark, I try to read in the tent. Some organisations gave us lamps, because we don’t have electricity. In the first months I used to have spare time and I would play football or go for running. Since we got our [asylum] case rejected… many times I spend time on thinking about our future… I don’t feel like a child anymore.”

(S*, 17, Syrian boy).[40]

Interrupted living

Interrupted living

The Greek reception system is a complex web of different accommodation schemes: RIC in Evros and on five Aegean islands; camps throughout the mainland; urban accommodation under the ESTIA programme; and hotels operating up until recently under the FILOXENIA programme.[41] Available statistics indicate that access to formal education varies by type of accommodation. The lowest enrolment rates are detected among refugee children on the islands, where “only a handful attend public schools”.[42] Conversely, the percentage of school-age children enrolled in schools was 74% for mainland camps and 76% for ESTIA at the end of last year.[43]

Asylum seekers are often transferred from one type of reception to another. Education professionals and parents speaking to RSA highlighted that these moves exacerbate existing difficulties in accessing accommodation by – often repeatedly – delaying or disrupting school attendance, contrary to the best interests of the child.

M* and his family arrived on Lesvos in summer 2019 and were subsequently transferred to different parts of the mainland. M* described how constant changes of accommodation affect their children:

“We are in Greece for one year and five months and my children have not gone to school… We were transferred to a hotel in the mountains... We stayed four months far from school, far from anything. Then we got transferred to three other hotels and then Corona started… Finally, they enrolled our children to school… Before they started school, we were transferred again to another hotel and then to Athens… We really want our children to go to school. Everywhere we went our first request was to put our children in school. But no one listened to us…”

(M*, Afghan father, Athens).[44]

Refugee children’s education prospects are equally marred by acute risks of homelessness and destitution upon obtaining international protection in Greece.[45] In all cases of families of beneficiaries of international protection monitored by RSA since the summer of 2020, children have not been able to attend public schools during their stay in the RIC, reception facilities on the mainland, or their subsequent homelessness in Athens.

Others have had their education interrupted. J* and his family, who arrived on Chios in early 2016, spent nine months in a tent in Katsikas camp in Northern Greece and were then moved several times to FILOXENIA hotels, were only able to enrol their children after moving to their third hotel.

“When the shelter closed, they moved us… Our children had to change school and start from the first class again… They attended their classes until 21st of January when we were evicted… Luckily, a humanitarian organisation accepted to shelter us… The hotel is on the other side of town. Our children had to quit school. We tried to bring them once, but it took two hours… We don’t know, where we will be next month…”

(J*, Afghan father, Athens).[46]

In cases documented by RSA, beneficiaries who rented flats with financial support from HELIOS have encountered difficulties in communicating with school administrations, have had to visit several schools and have not managed to enrol all of their children at the time of writing.

Medical examinations and vaccinations

Enrolment in public schools is conditional upon the conduct of medical examinations and vaccinations, and the delivery of a Personal Pupil Health Statement (Ατομικό Δελτίο Υγείας Μαθητών, ADYM). In the reported absence of regular vaccination campaigns within mainland camps, parents depend on the public health system and face delays in enrolling their children due to persisting difficulties in obtaining social security documentation[47] and to severe shortages in interpretation services in public health institutions. Families interviewed by RSA noted that these delays limit access to vaccinations, while access to NGOs offering assistance is subject to long waiting times.


Xenophobic opposition to refugee education

Xenophobic opposition to refugee education

Against the backdrop of an increasingly hostile public discourse against refugees and migrants in Greece,[48] racist protests by parents e.g. blockades of school gates and public announcements against the integration of refugee children in schools persist.[49] Since the COVID-19 pandemic, parents have invoked “risks to public health” to oppose the inclusion of refugee children from nearby camps in schools in the Prefectures of Corinth,[50] Kilkis,[51] Thessaloniki,[52] Evia,[53] and Lesvos.[54] At senior level, school principals, local and regional authorities have also opposed the creation of TY-ZEP and DYEP in their areas.

In some cases, education professionals encouraging integration of refugee children have faced prejudice and hostility from parents, colleagues or school administrations, including disciplinary or legal proceedings in reported cases on Samos and in Xanthi.[55] Nevertheless, despite an increasingly hostile environment for people working in camps, teachers continue to speak out in individual capacity or collectively against problems in refugee education.[56]

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

Movement restrictions

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Greek authorities imposed movement restrictions on the residents of RIC and mainland camps in March 2020, according to which only heads of families or group representatives were allowed to exit the facilities between 07:00 and 19:00 to cater for their needs in the nearest cities.[57] These measures were successively prolonged even after lockdown measures were eased for the rest of the population in May 2020, sparking sharp criticism about discriminatory treatment against refugees.[58]

Education professionals interviewed by RSA highlighted that, due to the lack of clear guidance regarding access to education for refugee children, COVID-19 measures continued to be interpreted by some camp managers as a lawful restriction of children’s school attendance. Their requests for clarification from the competent Ministries have reportedly remained unanswered.

Schools re-opened in September 2020 amid anticipation of a second COVID-19 wave. At that time, a circular of the Deputy Minister for Education, Sofia Zacharaki, required a negative COVID-19 test no earlier than 72 hours prior to school attendance specifically for children enrolling in DYEP. The circular was withdrawn three days after publication.[59]

The movement restrictions curtailed possibilities for children to access school, given that exit from camps was extremely limited. Problems were reported to RSA for many camps, such as Diavata, Elaionas, Serres, Lagadikia, Veria, Loutra Volvis, Alexandria, Kato Milies and Oinofyta.[60] In addition, various camps were placed in two-week quarantine due to COVID-19 cases.[61]

“We are seven persons in the container… My children sit inside all day. Their psychology is very bad. There is no place to play and no place to learn. Because of Corona only one person per family can leave the camp for two hours a day… There are some children going to school in the camp, but each family has at least one child out of school. It is hard for my children to watch some of their friends going to school and to stay behind …”

(R*, Afghan father, Diavata).[62]

Inaccessible remote learning

The closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic has required the Greek education system to shift to a challenging reality of online learning. This has been implemented by the Ministry of Education and private company Cisco through the Webex Meetings platform.[63]However, most refugee children, among other disadvantaged population groups, do not have the necessary means to participate in online classes.[64]

First, dire conditions in RIC and mainland camps entail not only lack of internet access,[65] but also a lack of stable electricity in facilities such as Kara Tepe, Lesvos or New Malakasa.[66] Families speaking to RSA explained that internet access is not available in ESTIA accommodation. The families of the two children attending school via remote learning reported difficulties in maintaining internet connection. They had to purchase phone credit through their own means in order for the children to follow classes through their mobile data.

“During the lockdown, when children had to attend internet school they had to stop studying. We have Wi-Fi in the camp, but it is working only near the offices of the organisations… When school first stopped in November, my children came and said that school finished because of quarantine… Tomorrow school will stop again. My children will forget everything again. If there was internet, they could study, but there is not. So, they will sit again in the container unable to learn… We asked the camp management to provide for a space with Wi-Fi so our children can attend internet lessons. There is no empty container, because they are filled with homeless people… In Schisto camp no children [attend] school for long time. The organisations were saying: ‘The Greeks don’t accept your children to their schools.”

(Z*, Afghan father, Schisto camp).[67]

Second, children lack the requisite technical equipment to follow online classes. Families often share one mobile phone. The Ministry of Education had announced support for purchase of technical equipment to those in need. However, such support is currently only available to recipients of the child support allowance (επίδομα παιδιού),[68] which is subject to requirement of 5 years of permanent and uninterrupted residence and thereby inaccessible for most refugees.[69]

 

“In March 2020 with the first quarantine, my son couldn’t participate in online lessons, because we had only one phone, which was with me when I was working. The same happened in November with the second quarantine… Somebody donated us a tablet. But I have two children. One day I would allow my elder boy to learn, the other my smaller…”

(J*, Afghan father, Athens).[70]

“The biggest problem for school is that I have three school-age children but we have only one phone to use for the internet school and it is old and doesn’t work well… Education means future. I had no school. I am nothing. My children will be somebody.”

(L*, Afghan single mother, Athens).[71]
Third, in the cases documented by RSA, since the schools’ instructions for access to the Webex Meetings platform and the different classes are usually only available in Greek and sometimes lack active links, children and parents lacked the necessary skills and could not effectively navigate the platform. In a recent debate in Parliament, the Ministry of Education admitted that numerous challenges persist for refugee children living in camps due to the lack of connectivity and technical equipment.[72]

Conclusions and recommendations

Conclusions and recommendations

This report has tracked the different levels of barriers to education through the eyes of refugee children, their parents and education professionals across the country. It has detailed the way in which the framework for refugee education has been gradually led to disuse over the past two years through failure to promptly establish and staff TY-ZEP and DYEP and to arrange transportation from camps. Obstacles to education are exacerbated by broader deficiencies in the Greek asylum system, from delayed access to registration and documentation to precariousness in inhuman living conditions, repeated transfers and lack of future prospects for people granted international protection.

Over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, education professionals speaking to RSA fear that the pandemic is being exploited to gradually entrench the exclusion of refugee children from formal education. They describe a tendency over the past two years to institutionalise the education of refugee children inside the fences of the RIC and mainland camps in the form of non-formal educational activities, DYEP or through remote schooling.[73] This is done through greater involvement of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, coupled with use of COVID-19 measures, and potential misinterpretation of applicable legislation setting out the need for “appropriate measures” to be taken when a minor cannot access formal education for specific reasons.[74]

“The biggest problem is refugee children's access to education. Last year, the ones enrolled went to school for only two months. Now, there are many children not even enrolled. It has been two years that the educational structures addressing the needs of refugee children are not being set up in a timely manner. Why this delay? The government listens to each parent’s association, school director, town mayor or prefect opposing refugee children’s integration. Now if we put the children finally in schools this year, I am afraid that there will be again racist reactions as we saw them initially 4-5 years ago when in some places, parents locking school gates and protesting against the enrolment of refugee children. The COVID-19 pandemic cannot legitimise these children’s exclusion. Segregation is not the answer. To place those children in schools inside the camps or limit their education to remote schooling is not an alternative. Not only is it the right of every child to access education, but to exclude them further devastates their mental and physical health. We have to remember that many of those children have not been able to go to school in their home countries due to war and they have often faced violence and hunger. We have to embrace every child and allow them all to grow into our societies.”

(Education professional, Aegean islands).

The insistence on the part of the government and the European Commission on large-scale camp facilities for the reception of asylum seekers located far from urban centres corroborates those fears. The Memorandum on the planned “Multi-Purpose RIC” on Lesvos includes schooling on site where public school attendance is not possible.[75]

Based on the observations made throughout this report, RSA highlights the following:

  • The overarching aim of any meaningful education policy should be the inclusion of refugee children into state schools with the necessary support. To this end, the Ministry of Education should continue to conduct regular monitoring and evaluation of the operation of TY-ZEP and DYEP and consult the education sector on concrete ways to improve policies.

  • The Ministry of Education should ensure regular publication of detailed statistics on the number of school-age refugee children present in the country, the number of children enrolled and the number of children actually attending.

  • The Ministry of Education should ensure smooth and uninterrupted access of refugee children to the public education system through prompt establishment of the required classes, recruitment of teaching staff and transport arrangements.

  • Segregation in the education system should be prevented. Creating parallel education frameworks inside camps, based on remote schooling, or in the form separate afternoon classes as a rule for refugees results in creating “educational ghettos”.

  • Containment of asylum seekers in large-scale facilities away from urban centres, including at borders, does not enable the state to comply with its obligation to guarantee children the right to education, as consistently reflected by practice in Greece. The model of reception in isolated large-scale centres and the use of border procedures should therefore be resisted.

  • Public health measures should be non-discriminatory. Any emergency measures affecting freedom of movement should respect children’s right and obligation to attend school.

Refugee Support Aegean, April 2021

“Within six months these children have experienced the fire in Moria, the new camp, COVID-19, and they do not have the opportunity for even two hours a day to go somewhere and forget their problems. Due to the pandemic, laws have been circumvented and new obstacles have been created for access to education on the island… Now they face racism in the attempt to finally go to school. Racism first of all affects the psychology of children. They are disappointed, they are heartbroken, they say: ‘They do not want us,’ and ask: ‘What did we do wrong?’… The resilience of these children to overcome the trauma and to continue is remarkable. All children should attend school and there should be special provisions for the disabled. This is a critical developmental age. You cannot leave them out of school for months or years. It will have a cognitive and developmental impact. We see pre-school children who showed signs of selective mutism. There are children at small age harming themselves or thinking of committing suicide.” (Education professional, Lesvos).[1]

Public school attendance of refugee children on the Aegean islands is dramatically low compared to the mainland, and public school classes start later.

On Lesvos, the very few children attending public schools live mostly in ESTIA flats or the municipal Kara Tepe camp. As most classes this year have been conducted remotely, access has been highly reduced even for those few children. There is reportedly no Wi-Fi in ESTIA flats and in Kara Tepe, Wi-Fi connection is not sufficiently stable to allow online learning. There is also no secured access to electricity in the latter.

In the new RIC of Kara Tepe (“Moria 2.0”), there are about 2,200 children living in very poor conditions with limited possibilities to leave the site. 1,500 of those are school-age children.[2] Learning conditions inside the Moria 2.0 are described as very difficult, with teaching conducted when weather allows outside or inside the tents. The safety for the pupils or the teachers cannot be guaranteed. Some residents self-organise for learning. There are refugee families with children in school-age who might have to stay for many more months in the RIC.

Non-formal education is provided for school-age children living in both camps by various actors including METAdrasi.[3] Non-formal learning activities have been halted during the second lockdown. According to UNCHR, non-formal classes provided by METAdrasi have resumed for some 60 children in February 2021 and another 50 children in Moria.2 receive daily homework packages with self-learning material.[4]

TY-ZEP for refugee children started with a few weeks’ delay following the beginning of the school year 2020-2021. It was during that time that parents of children attending the 2nd Primary School of Lesvos opposed the integration of refugee children, insisting that they feared COVID-19 infections since the children were to come from allegedly overcrowded flats or the Kara Tepe camp.[5]

TY-ZEP for secondary education and DYEP classes started as late as February 2021, similar to the previous school year.[6] On one occasion, the start of school for a few children was again met with opposition from some. On 5 February 2021, a few parents, pupils and other island residents blocked access to Ippeios Middle School on Lesvos, hosting a TY-ZEP, to stop refugee children from attending classes. During their protest, they verbally abused and threatened a local female teacher who a day earlier had tried to dispel xenophobic attitudes expressed by some of students.[7] The parents had already refrained from sending their children to school, only to come the next morning and lock the school gates. 8 refugee students were meant to begin school that day – four months after the school year had started,[8] but some of them did reportedly not appear again after the incident. The ZEP class was reportedly finally scheduled for the afternoons (instead of mornings) to avoid further tensions. When school gates closed and remote schooling started again, those children remained out of school.

With the Municipal Kara Tepe camp closing in the end of April 2021,[9] many refugee children will soon have to stay within the infamous Moria 2.0 where their prospects of enrolment in formal education are uncertain. The finalisation of a new Multi-Purpose RIC as laid down in a December 2020 Memorandum of Understanding between Greece and the EU is scheduled for early winter 2021.[10] Education professionals are concerned that the centres will be closed and their operation will result in refugee children being excluded from access to formal education in public schools.

Notes

  1. Interview with RSA, Phone, 5 February 2021.
  2. UNHCR, Regional Bureau for Europe: Greece Update No 16 – Lesvos, March 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3dCRu60.
  3. Information provided by METAdrasi, 2 April 2021. See also METAdrasi, Εκπαιδευτικές Δράσεις για παιδιά στα νησιά, available at: https://bit.ly/3fPRB0M.
  4. UNHCR, Greece Update No. 16 – Lesvos, March 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3s265Nf.
  5. Sto Nisi, ‘Κατά της φοίτησης προσφυγόπουλων στο σχολείο των παιδιών τους;’, 28 September 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/39LbqlT.
  6. In the previous school year, DYEP classes started in February 2020, while on the mainland they had started in October 2019. The pupils attended only one month of school before the first COVID-19 quarantine led to school closure, and remained excluded from classes due to the lack of access to remote learning. By May-June 2020, they attended school for another month.
  7. in.gr, ‘Λέσβος : Αποκλεισμός προσφυγόπουλων από την εκπαίδευση – «Ως παιδί μεταναστών δεν ένιωσα αυτό τον τρόμο»’, 5 February 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/39Jhz28.
  8. Efsyn, ‘Έξαρση «ρατσιστοϊού» σημειώθηκε στο Ίππειος της Λέσβου’, 5 February 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/2PsMuZJ.
  9. ERT, ‘Κλείνει τέλη Απριλίου η δημοτική δομή του Καρά Τεπέ (video)’, 7 April 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3uwpuaO.
  10. European Commission, Memorandum of Understanding on a Joint Pilot for the establishment of a new Multi-Purpose Reception and Identification Centre on Lesvos, C(2020) 8657, 2 December 2020.
The case of Ritsona “The most important problem is that the children are excluded from the right to education, there are about, 830 students that are out of school… We got a lot of empty promises but we are still waiting to get… this chance. And you know, if you are not able to communicate with a local community then how can you have a better understanding (of) each other and how can they know about us?” (A*,17-year-old Afghan girl). Ritsona camp has become the flagship of exclusion of refugee children from formal education in Greece. Following a doubling in population in 2020, the camp currently houses 2,763 refugees,[1] among whom over 800 school-age children.[2] While the newly created classes are yet to be staffed, there are not enough busses to bring all the children to school to attend classes running since last year. “There are now three busses, while there is a need for 13,” says Pepi Papadimitriou, SEP for Ritsona. This means that when schools re-open soon only 100 children will be able to be transferred there. All the children of the camp remain out of school until today, Pepi Papadimitriou confirmed.[3] During the previous school year, the director of secondary education sent a letter to local schools, asking them whether or not they wished to set up TY-ZEP and/or DYEP. Meanwhile, the SEP responsible for Ritsona camp had asked authorities for COVID-19 tests to be repeated, in order to allow the secure return of camp pupils to school. Upon the re-opening of schools on 11 May 2020, the General Secretary of the Ministry of Education had reportedly given an oral order that the children residing in Ritsona refugee camp would not return to their schools on public health grounds.[4] In September 2020, before the school gates opened for school year 2020-2021, an official meeting was held again to discuss access to education for children in Ritsona camp.[5] The meeting was attended by the General Secretary of Primary, Secondary and Special Education of the Ministry of Education, the General Secretary of Reception of Asylum Seekers of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, the Mayor of Chalkida and representatives of other institutions.[6] The Mayor of Chalkida later insisted that the Ministries had accepted her request to not allow the Ritsona children to attend local schools this year, a statement denied by the central government.[7] Three weeks later, children living in Ritsona camp were still out of school and held a protest urging: “Stop destroying our future! We want to go to school!”[8] Following repeated interventions before the competent authorities, the SEP of the camp was informed by the prefecture responsible for bus transport to school that the competent Ministries had decided that the refugee pupils would no longer attend reception classes in local schools at a September meeting. On that basis, a respective tender for bus transport services was blocked for months. In December 2020, seven new DYEP were established in primary schools under emergency procedures for an additional 271 pupils.[9]Meanwhile, the 320 pupils living in the camp who had already been enrolled in schools before the start of the pandemic could not attend their classes due to delays in bus transport tenders and to the lack of internet infrastructure. Only in January 2021 and following strong public pressure was the bus transport tender completed. In an open letter to the authorities in January 2021, Mayor of Chalkida, Eleni Vaka, opposed Ritsona children attending classes in local schools, arguing that the school infrastructure could not absorb the extra pupils and that their inclusion would create risks for public health during the pandemic.[10] Following an ex officio intervention regarding the open letter, the Public Prosecutor initiated a preliminary investigation against the Mayor for a possible criminal offences under anti-racism legislation. In a January 2021 interview when asked about the Ritsona case, the Deputy Minister of Migration and Asylum, Sofia Voultepsi, spoke of a national plan on the education of refugee children that would not burden the local communities.[11] The example of Ritsona camp[12] also shows how COVID-19 is being used to exclude refugee children from Greek schools by different actors. However, the children have broad support from the civil society and education professionals.[13] As stated by the Regional Federation of Primary School Teachers of Evia and the Association of Teachers and Kindergarten Teachers of Chalkida, “the natural place of refugee and immigrant children is with the other children in the school!”[14] At present, it is unclear when these children will actually be able to attend school (again). Notes
  1. IOM, SMS Factsheets, February 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3fE8Ge1.
  2. Hellenic Parliament, Parliamentary question by KKE, 8 February 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3t4Dt7L.
  3. Efsyn, ‘Ριτσώνα: Το Ολοκαύτωμα της εκπαίδευσης’, 29 January 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/39E4EOK; ‘Παιδιά ενός κατώτερου Θεού’, 4 February 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3sQIela.
  4. Evia Portal, ‘ΕΛΜΕ Εύβοιας: όλα τα προσφυγόπουλα σε όλα τα σχολεία’, 16 June 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3fH0Ksr.
  5. Ministry of Education, ‘Επίσκεψη των Γενικών Γραμματέων των Υπουργείων: Παιδείας και Θρησκευμάτων κ. Α. Γκίκα και Μετανάστευσης και Ασύλου κ. Εμ. Λογοθέτη στην Περιφέρεια Εύβοιας στη Χαλκίδα’, 2 September 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2OsRcpO.
  6. Efsyn, ‘Ριτσώνα: Το Ολοκαύτωμα της εκπαίδευσης’, 29 January 2021.
  7. Municipality of Chalkida, ‘Επιστολή της Δημάρχου Χαλκιδέων προς την Υφυπουργό Παιδείας και Θρησκευμάτων σχετικά με τη φοίτηση μαθητών – προσφύγων από τη Δομή της Ριτσώνας σε σχολεία του Δήμου’, 26 January 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/2PBlUNV.
  8. Parwana Amiri, Video, 23 September 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3fJhCPm.
  9. especial.gr, ‘Νέες ιδρύσεις ΔΥΕΠ για το 2020-21’, 5 January 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3dxzABG.
  10. Municipality of Chalkida, ‘Επιστολή της Δημάρχου Χαλκιδέων προς την Υφυπουργό Παιδείας και Θρησκευμάτων σχετικά με τη φοίτηση μαθητών – προσφύγων από τη Δομή της Ριτσώνας σε σχολεία του Δήμου’, 26 January 2021.
  11. Star Central Greece, Interview with Sofia Voultepsi, 27 January 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3cVFmOt.
  12. Alfa Vita, ‘Εκτός εκπαίδευσης τα προσφυγόπουλα της Ριτσώνας από τα σχολεία της περιοχής’, 10 September 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3ugXOqi; Efsyn, ‘Ριτσώνα: περιμένοντας τον Γκοντό’, 21 September 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3wCjoYD; Avgi, ‘Εκτός σχολικών μονάδων τα προσφυγόπουλα’, 5 September 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3cONwYA.
  13. Efsyn, ‘Ριτσώνα: Το Ολοκαύτωμα της εκπαίδευσης’, 29 January 2021.
  14. Evoiki Gnomi, ‘Να σταματήσει ο αποκλεισμός των παιδιών της Ριτσώνας από την εκπαίδευση’, 3 February 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3wsWe6L.

* Names have been anonymized to protect privacy and security

 

Notes

  1. The term “refugee children” throughout this report refers to children who are either asylum seekers or beneficiaries of international protection in Greece.
  2. RSA et al., ‘Open Letter: “All children have the right to go to school. Do not take that away from them”’, 10 March 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3fq3f2d.
  3. Most interviews took place via phone due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  4. RSA interviewed a total of 35 school-age children in 2 families of beneficiaries of international protection and 11 asylum-seeking families in the context of this research. Findings are completed with information received from 10 families of beneficiaries of international protection.
  5. L 4636/2019, Gov. Gazette A’ 169/1.11.2019.
  6. Article 51(2) IPA.
  7. KYA 152360/ΓΔ4/16 was repealed by KYA 180647/ΓΔ4/2016, Gov. Gazette B’ 3502/31.10.2016, available at: https://bit.ly/36W3cDn. See also UNICEF, ‘Greece goes back-to-school with more refugee and migrant children getting into the Greek education system than ever’, 11 September 2017, available at: https://uni.cf/3sChdBL.
  8. The government drew on Article 26(1) L 3879/2010, Gov. Gazette A’ 163/21.09.2010 which provided a legal basis for the creation of ZEP for refugee, migrant, Roma, repatriated and vulnerable children.
  9. SEP help refugee and asylum-seeking children register for formal school (e.g. organising documentation and arranging for vaccinations) and support them in navigating school. They liaise with families to help them understand how the education system operates.
  10. G Simopoulos and A Alexandridis, ‘Refugee Education in Greece: integration or segregation?’ (2019) 60 Forced Migration Review 27, available at: https://bit.ly/2PzG9eT.
  11. See e.g. Ministry of Education, Έκθεση αποτίμησης του έργου για την ένταξη των παιδιών των προσφύγων στην εκπαίδευση, April 2017, available at: https://bit.ly/3rEpK60; ‘Το ΥΠΠΕΘ για την Παγκόσμια Ημέρα Προσφύγων’, 20 June 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/39s2YaY.
  12. Hellenic Parliament, Parliamentary question by SYRIZA, 20 September 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/3ui6iO9; Parliamentary question by SYRIZA, 26 February 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/39uhteJ.
  13. Kostas Arvanitis, ‘Εκπαίδευση και Ένταξη: Πρόσβαση χωρίς αποκλεισμούς για παιδιά προσφύγων και μεταναστών’, 5 March 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3fuphRe.
  14. UNICEF, UNHCR and IOM provide a breakdown of children attending formal education by region: UNICEF, Data on the situation in Greece, available at: https://uni.cf/3uhQVoX. These statistics do not cover categories e.g. children outside shelters, children awaiting registration as asylum seekers, children beneficiaries of international protection living in private accommodation with HELIOS support.
  15. UNICEF, Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe Humanitarian Situation Report No 38, 31 December 2020, 3, available at: https://bit.ly/3wfGvrp; Refugee and migrant children in Greece, 31 December 2018, available at: https://uni.cf/3sHd8Mt.
  16. Hellenic Parliament, Plenary Debate ΞΔ’, 19 December 2019, 6524, available at: https://bit.ly/39xethz.
  17. Hellenic Parliament, Plenary Debate ϞΔ’, 8 March 2021, 126, available at: https://bit.ly/3weaGzg. 
  18. See also European Commission, Education and Training Monitor 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2PYw5fq, referring to only 400 children attending school as of February 2020. 
  19. Ministry of Education Decision Φ1/106356/Δ1 (TY-ZEP Primary), Gov. Gazette B’ 3463/20.08.2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3dshMHN; Ministry of Education Decision 131701/Δ2 (TY-ZEP Secondary), Gov. Gazette B’ 4404/06.10.2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3u5l5LY; Ministry of Education Decision 107230/Δ1 (DYEP), Gov. Gazette B’ 3605/29.08.2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3cDP7Az, establishing DYEP in 84 primary schools, 36 secondary schools and 39 kindergartens in camps.
  20. Ministry of Education, Circular Φ1/169781/Δ1 (TY-ZEP), 15 December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3rPUC3D; ‘Προσλήψεις 302 εκπαιδευτικών Πρωτοβάθμιας και Δευτεροβάθμιας Εκπαίδευσης, ως προσωρινών αναπληρωτών για απασχόληση στις ΔΥΕΠ, για το διδακτικό έτος 2020-2021’ (DYEP), 15 December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3uepY5y.
  21. The Press Project, ‘Να υπερασπιστούμε το παιδί από το Αφγανιστάν, τη Συρία, από το Ζεφύρι, το Ρέθυμνο, τον Πύργο’, 12 December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3mmzv7X.
  22. Alfa Vita, ‘Σάμος: Εκτός εκπαίδευσης τα προσφυγόπουλα – Ούτε μια πρόσληψη στις ΔΥΕΠ’, 31 January 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3sH9uCv.
  23. Interview with RSA, Athens, 10 February 2021.
  24. Interview with RSA, Phone, 4 February 2021.
  25. Hellenic Parliament, Plenary Debate ϞΔ’, 8 March 2021, 127-128. 
  26. Hellenic Parliament, Plenary Debate ΞΔ’, 19 December 2019, 6522.
  27. Interview with RSA, Phone, 10 February 2021. S* and her family arrived on Lesvos in summer 2019. After four months in the “jungle” of Moria, they were transferred to Ritsona, Evia, where she and her sister have still not gone to school.
  28. Article 28 KYA 79942/ΓΔ4/2019, Gov. Gazette B’ 2005/31.05.2019, available at: https://bit.ly/39zyF2b.
  29. See e.g. Ministry of Education, Circular 7557/ΓΔ4/20-01-2020, 20 January 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2PiOHXC.
  30. G Simopoulos and A Alexandridis, ‘Refugee Education in Greece: integration or segregation?’ (2019) 60 Forced Migration Review 27.
  31. Article 51(2) IPA.
  32. RSA et al., The Workings of the Screening Regulation, January 2021, 26, available at: https://bit.ly/3fxphQx.
  33. Article 51(1) IPA.
  34. As of February 2021, there were 3,577 unregistered residents in camps across Greece: IOM, SMS Factsheet, February 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3m9PiXi.
  35. Interview with RSA, Phone, 15 February 2021.
  36. RSA, EU-Turkey deal: Five Years of Shame – Rule of law capture by a Statement, March 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3fzE5hI.
  37. UNHCR, Greece Factsheet, December 2020, 4, available at: https://bit.ly/3whOuV4.
  38. RSA, EU-Turkey deal: Five Years of Shame – Repercussions for the “children of the deal”, March 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3rI3c4i.
  39. Interview with RSA, Athens, 11 February 2021.
  40. Interview with RSA, Phone, 11 February 2021.
  41. RSA, Beneficiaries of international protection in Greece: Access to documents and socio-economic rights, March 2021, para 40, available at: https://bit.ly/2Polt9C.
  42. UNHCR, Greece Factsheet, December 2020, 4.
  43. UNHCR, ESTIA II Population Breakdown, December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3wl75zC; IOM, SMS Factsheet, December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3dprMBP.
  44. Interview with RSA, Phone, 4 February 2021.
  45. RSA, Beneficiaries of international protection in Greece: Access to documents and socio-economic rights, March 2021, paras 39-40.
  46. Interview with RSA, Athens, 10 February 2021.
  47. Hronometro, ‘ΕΛΜΕ Καβάλας: Προβλήματα στην εκπαίδευση των παιδιών (προσφύγων και μεταναστών)’, 14 January 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3sM0ADB. For more details on the Provisional Foreigner’s Insurance and Health Care Number (Προσωρινός Αριθμός Ασφάλισης και Υγειονομικής Περίθαλψης Αλλοδαπού, PAAYPA) and Social Security Number (Αριθμός Μητρώου Κοινωνικής Ασφάλισης, AMKA), see RSA, Beneficiaries of international protection in Greece: Access to documents and socio-economic rights, March 2021, paras 19-22.
  48. Racist Violence Recording Network, Submission in Sakir v. Greece, December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/31Hr8u6; RSA, Submission in Sakir v. Greece, July 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3sNV57x.
  49. Ibid. See also RSA, ‘Rise of xenophobic and racist incidents in the past 6 months: A timeline’, 31 October 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/3mehg4b.
  50. Gazzetta, ‘«Δεν είμαστε ρατσιστές, αλλά αν ενταχθούν τα παιδιά των μεταναστών στο σχολείο, θα το κλείσουμε»’, 14 September 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3dyeNho.
  51. Alfa Vita, ‘Κιλκίς: Γονείς μαθητών εμποδίζουν τη φοίτηση προσφυγόπουλων’, 25 September 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3rHelCb.
  52. Voria, ‘Βρασνά: Δεν στέλνουν παιδιά στο σχολείο επειδή γράφτηκαν προσφυγόπουλα’, 14 February 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3wlySjy; Efsyn, ‘Πυρήνες ρατσισμού σε διαπολιτισμικά σχολεία’, 27 September 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3cK8qbr; Efsyn, ‘Αντιδράσεις για τα προσφυγόπουλα από δημοτικό σχολείο στη Νυμφόπετρα’, 1 February 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/39AfO7s.
  53. Evia Zoom, ‘Εισαγγελέας ακούει; Ρατσιστική ανάρτηση της Έλενας Βάκα για τα παιδιά των μεταναστών – Ζητάει να μην πάνε σε κανένα σχολείο του Δήμου Χαλκιδέων’, 27 January 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3sO9osW.
  54. in.gr, ‘Ανεπιθύμητα τα προσφυγόπουλα σε σχολείο της Μυτιλήνης λόγω… κοροναϊού’, 28 September 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3dpxW4V.
  55. Efsyn, ‘Στο εδώλιο η αλληλεγγύη’, 21 October 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/39SFwUT; ‘«Ελέγχουν ως ύποπτες τις απόψεις υπέρ προσφύγων και μεταναστών»’, 20 July 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3ugWzrq.
  56. See e.g. News 24/7, ‘Συγκλονιστική επιστολή της Συντονίστριας Εκπαίδευσης Ριτσώνας στη Δήμαρχο Χαλκίδας’, 31 January 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3rPVoh2; Alfa Vita, ‘Προσφυγόπουλα: Η ΚΥΑ του αποκλεισμού’, 1 February 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3cHAOuB; Evia Portal, ‘ΕΛΜΕ Εύβοιας – Σύλλογος Δασκάλων-Νηπιαγωγών: Να σταματήσει ο αποκλεισμός των παιδιών της Ριτσώνας από την εκπαίδευση’, 2 February 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3rKOYPW. See also online events organised by the Assembly against Exclusion (Συνέλευση Ενάντια σε Εγκλεισμούς και Αποκλεισμούς), ‘Refugee children in Greece: exclusionary policies in education’, 31 January 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/2RbILA8 and ‘Refugee and Roma education: Exclusion policies – Attempts at self-organization’, 4 April 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/31QKsoM.
  57. KYA Δ1α/ΓΠ.οικ. 20030/2020, Gov. Gazette B’ 985/22.03.2020 and subsequent amendments up to KYA Δ1α/Γ.Π.οικ. 18877/2021, Gov. Gazette B’ 1194/27.03.2021.
  58. Amnesty International, ‘Organisations in Greece, local and international health bodies warn: “Discrimination does not protect against COVID-19”’, 17 July 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/39yZvHM.
  59. Efsyn, ‘Απέσυρε το ΥΠΑΙΘ την υποχρέωση αρνητικού τεστ Covid-19 για τα προσφυγόπουλα’, 12 September 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3rJGj0i.
  60. Teachers’ Initiative for the Right of Refugee and Migrant Children to School, ‘Φτάνει με τη ρατσιστική πολιτική που διώχνει τα προσφυγόπουλα από τα σχολεία’, 31 January 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3meCsaq.
  61. To the knowledge of RSA, COVID-19 quarantines have been imposed on the RIC of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Fylakio, at least 14 mainland camps, as well as some FILOXENIA hotels and shelters for unaccompanied children.
  62. Interview with RSA, Phone, 15 February 2021.
  63. Ministry of Education, Οδηγίες χρήσης τηλεκπαίδευσης (Webex Meetings), available at: https://bit.ly/39BJvVA.
  64. Alfa Vita, ‘Εκπαιδευτικοί για τηλεκπαίδευση: Για την εικονική “κανονικότητα” του υπουργείου Παιδείας’, 16 November 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3ufDmpP; ‘Βαθμολογία μαθητών-ύλη: Σχέδιο πρακτικού για τους εκπαιδευτικούς’, 17 December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3dwfojk.
  65. I Paideia, ‘Τηλεκπαίδευση: Πολλές οι δυσκολίες για μαθητές διαπολιτισμικών σχολείων’, 1 December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3sWSUyN; Alfa Vita, ‘Εκπαιδευτικοί: Η Ελλάδα βρίσκεται στην 5η θέση με τους πιο ηλικιωμένους εκπαιδευτικούς στην ΕΕ’, 25 November 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3fzZQ0B.
  66. RSA, ‘Moria 2.0: Trapped refugees at the mercy of winter’, 1 December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3fNrqrF; ‘New Malakasa: Inhuman subsistence, nine months on’, 17 December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3sIV04Y.
  67. Interview with RSA, Athens, 10 February 2021.
  68. KYA 30746/ΓΔ8/2021, Gov. Gazette B’ 1046/17.03.2021, available at: https://bit.ly/31K3YDn.
  69. RSA, Beneficiaries of international protection in Greece: Access to documents and socio-economic rights, March 2021, para 28.
  70. Interview with RSA, Athens, 10 February 2021.
  71. Interview with RSA, Athens, 11 February 2021.
  72. Hellenic Parliament, Plenary Debate ϞΔ’, 8 March 2021, 127-128.
  73. See also Alfa Vita, ‘Εκτός εκπαίδευσης τα προσφυγόπουλα της Ριτσώνας από τα σχολεία της περιοχής’, 10 September 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3ugXOqi.
  74. Article 51(4) IPA. Note, however, that, according to Article 51(3), non-formal education inside reception facilities shall not substitute formal education.
  75. European Commission, Memorandum of Understanding on a Joint Pilot for the establishment of a new Multi-Purpose Reception and Identification Centre on Lesvos, C(2020) 8657, 2 December 2020, 19.

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