“Education has no boundaries; education is not related to language and it is an inalienable human right. It is indeed a right of all children” *
Athens, September 28, 2017
Approximately 160 out of the 282 refugee children hosted today in the SolidarityNow Housing programs have been smoothly integrated into the education system and have already started to attend public schools in the country. This percentage is overwhelmingly large as it reaches 56.09% of refugee children and basically represents the majority of the children who benefit daily from the organization’s services. Our common belief in SolidarityNow is that integration in society is made feasible through education.
One of SolidarityNow’s priorities is the protection of human rights at all levels, with emphasis on defending the rights of vulnerable groups such as children.
A basic human right is access to education for all. One of the main priorities of the organization, underpinning the planning and implementing of programs, is to respond effectively to the needs of the most vulnerable groups aiming at the smooth integration of children into public education; this way ensuring equal opportunities. Only thus will these children have equal treatment and the same opportunities to succeed at school as compared to their Greek peers.
What SolidarityNow has done to accomplish the enrollment of refugee children into schools
Since 2016, in order to ensure that all children will enroll in the educational system, the organization has implemented an additional strand of activities that would safeguard their right to smooth access to education:
- 1,481 non-formal educational activities were organized
- Provided a wide spectrum of activities, ranging from Arabic and Greek courses to computer skills training and geography
- Enhanced protection and informal pre-school education activities for 1,519 children
- Collaborated with local communities and schools in order to increase acceptance of the new students by classmates and parents, with emphasis on small communities.
The School in Numbers
– 158 out of the 282 children, hosted in the context of the SolidarityNow’s programs have enrolled in preschool and primary school (56.09%).
More specifically, the percentages of children by educational levels are as follows:
- 75%: Pre-school
- 56%: Primary school
- 55%: Junior High school
- 82%: High school
- 26% of refugee children who are not yet enrolled in school are awaiting registration as soon as it becomes administratively possible
- 06% and 52.60% of the refugee children who have enrolled in school are boys and girls, respectively
- 17% of the children who are still “on hold” are justified by lack of motivation to enter the Greek educational system in view of pending relocation to another European country, lack of places in preschool education and in some cases, lack of places at schools in their proximity.
In this context, and with a view to the smooth integration of refugee children in the Greek educational system, the Ministry of Education should step up its efforts to ensure and encourage the enrollment of all children living in Greece.
Success Stories paving the Way
In Northern Greece, “Little S., a six-year-old girl staying in Sindos shelter, walks almost an hour to go to school, accompanied by her father”,while on the other side of the country, in the Southern Aegean Sea,
“The eight-year-old Hassan was a war-traumatized boy when he arrived on the island of Tilos, demonstrating troubled behavior toward his teachers and classmates. Through continuous support, he managed within a four-month period, to overcome his fears and became the best student in his class. He wants to be a doctor!”
Minor Examples, Major Steps towards Integration
Since 2016, SolidarityNow has helped eighteen (18) children to join public school in Sindos, while in Tilos thirteen (13) children are expected to start school this year (2017-2018). It is remarkable that the registration of the thirteen (13) children at Tilos School has led to a ministerial decision to increase the number of teachers from three to four, thus benefiting all the children of that island.
Our vision of giving access and providing education to all children becomes reality through determined and targeted actions aiming at overcoming language and cultural barriers.
* Maria Patsikou, retired teacher, mother of three – she hosted in her home a five-member family from Syria, under the Home for Hope program. Read her story: http://www.solidaritynow.org/en/wearefamily-01-marias-karims-family/