“But as with many aspects of Europe’s effort to cope with the huge numbers of migrants who have come to its shores, the plan quickly ran into intense opposition, in this case from parents in a number of communities near camps in northern Greece. The refugee children, the parents said, might have contagious diseases. Cultural differences, they said, might disrupt learning.
Last week, an association representing the parents of schoolchildren in the small town of Filippiada in western Greece sent a letter to local officials and the Education Ministry, saying “explicitly and categorically that we will not accept, under any circumstance and without any compromise, that the children of so-called irregular immigrants” attend local schools, referring to migrants entering the country illegally.”
Children have a right to education and the best system is to integrate them in the normal school stream. Reactions are foreseeable, although there is a steady part of the Greek population which remains welcoming of refugees and migrants and continues to support and help and donate. This is where countries like Greece – which bears the brunt of arrivals from Turkey, without much help from other EU countries – need help. All Greek schools which receive refugee children should be funded by the European Union to do so, including for the hiring of “cultural interpreters” who would be the go-to person in helping smooth out the transition. Unfortunately, integration strategies are still in their infancy in Europe.
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