SIRIUS: Refugee Education in Greece

    Bistra Ivanova
    Iva Partsaleva
    Fred Carlo Andersen
    European Commission

    In December 2021, the Hellenic Open University in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Religion organized a peer-learning visit to Athens. It focused on the topics of refugee education and multicultural schools in Greece. Additional emphasis was put on the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has negatively affected the education sector, especially the vulnerable groups within it. Migrant and refugee students were significantly affected, with a lack of access to devices and internet, increasing their exclusion rate from the education system.

    Two Bulgarian organizations took part in the exchange - the longstanding SIRIUS member Multi Kulti Collective and UNHCR Bulgaria. In addition, representatives of Norway and the Netherlands also too part. Bulgaria was interested to participate in this event because it shares a number of common characteristics with Greece: "transit" profile of the country in terms of migration and a growing number of migrants on the country's territory, which requires more focus on inclusive policies at national and school level.

    During the event, the delegates had the opportunity to participate in several types of activities – a hybrid round table on the topic of refugee education, an international discussion and a series of field visits in schools located in Athens.

    The activities aimed to answer the following questions:

    • What are the needs of the refugee students located in Greece?
    • Which policies did Greece use to address them?
    • How is education organized in the Refugee Facility Centers?
    • How is refugee education organized in school?
    • What is the model of multicultural schools and how do they work?
    • And what can other peers and countries learn from these practices?

    The report aims to share the experience of the visit with a wide range of stakeholders at national and European level.