The EU is backing a special education programme that has helped 2500 refugee and migrant children get back to school in Greece. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) provides transportation and the bus escorts who accompany migrant and refugee children from accommodation facilities to the nearest Greek schools.
The programme ensures the safe transportation of migrant and refugee children from to their schools, and equips them with school kits including notebooks, pens, pencils and other necessary educational material. According to the latest figures from IOM, 61 school buses take the children from the accommodation centres to 94 nearby schools on a daily basis.
“Following the adoption of a new legal framework by the Greek Parliament in August 2016, access to education for refugee children of school-going age has improved significantly. The European Commission is helping the Greek authorities carry out this fundamental task by co-financing the transport of children to schools and the distribution of school kits with a total of €2.8 million in EU Emergency Support,” said Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.
He added, “This comes on top of our support to informal education activities for over 9000 refugee children in Greece.”
“Four months ago, we were facing the alarming reality that thousands of migrant and refugee children in Greece were not attending school, compounding the hardships they have had to face. Today, it is very heart-warming to see a much more positive picture as the number of children who attend school is now into the thousands and continues to grow,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing.
“We greatly appreciate the support from the EU and our partners in Greece and look forward to ensuring that all migrant and refugee children are in school and we can continue providing this crucial support,” Ambassador Swing added.
The reaction from the parents has been very positive and many have expressed great relief that their children are back in school. “I am very happy for my children because education is very important,” says Hiyfat who fled Aleppo together with her husband and her three children a year ago.
Her 10-year-old daughter, Sara, adds: “I went to school in Syria for almost a year. I love that I’m starting again. I would like to study English, to learn every language in the world! It would be nice to do some drawing and to make new friends too.”