Parents at northern Greek elementary school oppose admission of refugee children

TAGS: Migration, Education

The parents’ association of an elementary school in the northern Greek town of Filippiada on Tuesday sent a memo to education authorities expressing their opposition to government plans to use school facilities to hold classes for refugee children staying at nearby camps.

The memo comes in the wake of a protest by parents in Oresteiada, also in northern Greece, opposing the admission of refugee children into the local school and threatening sit-ins if the government proceeds with its plans to provide schooling to hundreds of migrant and refugee children trapped in Greece.

In the memo, which refers to the refugees as “irregular migrants,” the parents’ association of the Second Elementary School of Filippiada lists a number of reasons why it is opposed to the measure, including fear of infectious diseases. They also cite “educational reasons,” arguing that their children will be unable to “coexist with migrant children” who have not received any schooling for several years and have “different perceptions on the role of family, the place of women and religion to Greek children whose parents have made sacrifices to offer their children the best education.”

The induction of refugee children in their small school, the parents say, may also “alter the Greek character of the school.” They also go on to argue that “100 percent” of the students at the school are Christian Orthodox and that they “will not allow religious fanaticism… that will harm our religion.”

“Icons of Christ and the Virgin, and of our saints and heroes, continue to adorn our classrooms and we expect all students to respect them,” the association said in its memo.

“The cultural chasm is so great that a violent installation of migrants in our town will only create adjustment problems,” the association adds. “And this is likely to erode elements of our own culture, such as our national, cultural and religious identity.”

The memo goes on to warn authorities that the association will “hold them responsible for any extreme behavior that may arise.”