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Greece: First day of school for refugee children accompanied with few protests

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The Greek Ministry of Education has launched a programme which will allow some 10,000 refugee children to access public education (primary and nursery school) and attend classes every day from 2 to 6 pm. This schedule allows the programme to use the premises of public schools, as Greek pupils generally attend lessons from 8h15 to 13h15.

The first classes took place on Monday 10 October 2016 at 15 schools across the country and welcomed some 1,500 refugee pupils. 12 busses organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) transported the children from reception centres to local schools. Officials gave them a tour of the facilities, introduced them to their teachers and supplied them with school kits, including notebooks, pens, pencils, bags and textbooks. The program, which was launched in the Attica, Central Macedonia (Thessaloniki) and Epirus regions, will be gradually expanded to reach the participation of 800 schools nationwide.

The initiative has been marred by isolated protests of parents who put forward sanitary concerns. As Greece launched a vaccination campaign in July 2016, General Secretary of the Education Ministry Yiannis Pantis stressed that no child will be allowed to join the programme without prior vaccination. Continue reading here and here

The education programme is part of the 'Multi – sectoral assistance to and protection of migrants and refugees stranded in Greece' scheme, funded by European Union Humanitarian Aid's Emergency Support. The initiative comes 4 months after NGOs Be Aware and Share and Chios Eastern Shore Response Team organised and designed 2 classes for asylum seeker children on the island of Chios.

Read more in English and in Greek