Child refugees stranded in Greece have been out of school for an average of 1.5 years, according to Save the Children.
The study conducted by the charity ahead of the inaugural World Humanitarian Summit found that Syrian child refugees have been out of school for an average of 25.8 months, while Afghan child refugees spent an average of 10.7 months out of the classroom.
“Children who have risked everything to reach Europe are now wasting the best years of their lives, in refugee camps, in detention centres, and behind border fences and walls,” said Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International. “Many know nothing more than conflict, violence, forced displacement, and their current deplorable conditions which offer little hope for their futures.”
The agency’s study found that although more than three quarters of school-aged refugee children interviewed in Greece said that going to school was one of their top priorities, more than one in five of them have never even begun their education.
“The EU needs to recognise education as a key need for children stranded in Greece and the Balkans and provide more support to the governments to set up temporary learning facilities in the camps and long-term education solutions,” said Thorning-Schmidt.
Save the Children, along with UNICEF and others, was due to unveil on Monday a new fund for schooling in emergencies called Education Cannot Wait to help provide schooling for displaced children.
Save the Children said it has been providing non-formal lessons – including English and Greek classes – through its child friendly spaces for refugees in Greece and is currently scaling up its education activities in Greece to provide child refugees with access to basic education through temporary classrooms.
Education Ministry sources told Kathimerini earlier this month that Greece plans to set up classes for children at refugee camps from September so they can be taught in their own languages, and learn English and Greek.