It was school time for hundreds of migrant and refugee children living in camps in Greece on Monday (Oct 10).
Around 1500 began attending for four hours every day in the afternoons, taking place after regular classes by Greek children.
Lessons include Greek, English, maths, art, gym and computer programming. The scheme is being funded by the EU and supported by aid agencies.
The migrant children will eventually be integrated into Greek children’s classrooms when they have learned the Greek language and can comfortably follow lessons.
Greece’s Education Minister Nikos Filis warned that children must not be ‘ghettoized’:
“Instead the conditions should be created so that they can play, grow up and be educated with Greek children as long as they remain in Greece.”
The first day did run smoothly in most areas except for in Thessaloniki where some parents protested over health fears. However, the government has tried to reassure parents by stressing that the refugee children have to be vaccinated before attending.
The aim of the scheme was to educate 18,000 refugee pupils by the end of September across 20 schools nationwide, but that target has now been modified to 10,000 by the end of October.