The Education Ministry in Greece has looked to institute education programs for children in refugee camps over the summer with the goal of beginning formal classes in the fall, local newspaper Ekathimerini reported Monday. The announcement comes as nearly 55,000 asylum-seekers remain stranded throughout Greece since the closure of the popular Western Balkans route in February.
The classes are expected to be taught by as many as three teachers per 150 pupils. The classes will teach refugee children in their native languages, as well as instructing them in some English and Greek. Authorities involved in the program have been looking to recruit any teachers among the refugee population, and the program will reportedly be funded by the European Union.
The majority of Syrian asylum-seekers arriving to Greece are either students or people who have recently completed a degree, according to recent data collected by the U.N High Commissioner for Refugees. Around 86 percent of those Syrians in Greece surveyed in December said they had completed some form of secondary education and 16 percent said they had been full-time students in their home country when they fled an ongoing civil war.
More than 1 million people crossed into Europe illegally in 2015, and the vast majority of them are bona fide political refugees, according to the U.N. With European authorities overwhelmed by the surge in migration, countries throughout the popular Western Balkans route, which is a migration path that leads from Greece up to Northern European countries where many people want to permanently settle, shut their borders over the past few months, effectively sealing the route by February.
Following the passage of a deal between the EU and Turkey in March in which all people who take the dangerous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece can be sent back to Turkey, Greece has become something of a bottleneck for asylum-seekers as they wait for their applications to be processed.