It’s a tragedy for thousands, millions of children, for so-called ‘lost generations’ without access to education! Children refugees stay out of school for several months if not for years. Just two months ago I met a young Syrian boy who has not been to school for whole 5 years. When the family left Syria and moved to Lebanon, the boy had to work at his uncle company who had offered shelter to the refugees. The boy arrived in Greece last summer, after several months on the islands, he managed to come to mainland. He stayed several months at the port of Piraeus. He is one of the unaccompanied children and teenagers. He is now in one of the refugee centers spread across the country. The boy was feeling completely lost. Too young to be alone without family. His only dream was to go to Germany to one of his older brothers who had managed to cross many borders two years ago. The boy feels depressed and has no plans for his life other than to go to Germany. he told me he would like to work, but was unable to tell what kind of work. He has zero skills and hardly a chance to obtain some. He said, he had heard there might be “an education NGO” coming in the camp and “open a school”. Would he attend? I asked him. The answer was a slight shake of the shoulders and a whisper “Yes. I have nothing, I do nothing the whole day.”
According to child-protection agency Save the Children, that also provides children with informal education classes “Child refugees stranded in Greece have been out of school for an average of one and a half years, risking a generation which has been denied the right to an education.”
A study conducted by the agency 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 study found further 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.”
“Of the 7.3 million child refugees in the world today, half don’t have access to education, and the international community will struggle for decades to reverse the effects of this lack of investment, which is why we are demanding that no refugee child is out of education for more than a month,” said Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International, at the Refugee Crisis and Education Conference in Istanbul in May.
“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. Many know nothing more than conflict, violence, forced displacement, and their current deplorable conditions which offer little hope for their futures,” Thorning-Schmidt summarized the situation of children refugees.
Once displaced for six months a refugee is likely to remain displaced for at least three years, with the average length of displacement now estimated at 17 years – almost an entire childhood.“Given the length of time children and their families are likely to be displaced it’s essential that they gain access to quality basic services, including education, as soon as possible,” said Thorning-Schmidt.
“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.”
Save the Children has been providing non-formal lessons – including English and Greek classes – through its child friendly spaces for refugees in Greece.
PS sadly, these children know violence, pain and anxiety but not the ABC…