In a study by the UN Migration Agency International Organisation for Migration (IOM), 84 percent of migrant and refugee children surveyed in open accommodation centers in Greece said access to regular schooling has allowed them to make friends with students from other cultures.
IOM said the findings show that the quality of community relations is directly affected by students' personal experience with educational institutions. It said the results indicate satisfaction with the daily school experience is an essential precondition for the integration of students in the education system.
Results of IOM study
"I enjoy going to school and my favorite subject is English, but I also want to keep learning Greek. I really like the Greek language," Sidad, 10, from Iraq, told IOM. "When I grow up, I want to be an interpreter. I don't have any Greek friends yet. But we go to school together every day and play ball during the breaks," he said. The survey data showed most respondents (62 percent) had prior formal education in their home countries. The vast majority of surveyed children (84 percent) reported to have either made friends or regularly interacted with Greek and other students and have smoothly integrated into the school environment. For students aged 17 and 18 in senior high, the drop-out rate was just over 11 percent, lower than the 30 percent among primary school students and 27 percent among high school students.
IOM said incidence of drop-outs can be attributed to various factors, including outflows from sites and the movement of families to urban areas, or even to other European countries such as through the EU Relocation Programme, which ended in March 2018.
Education key for integration
During the 2017-2018 school year, IOM ensured the transportation of 2,800 migrant and refugee students to schools in Greece. Of those, 77 percent attended classes in primary schools, 21 percent in high schools and nearly 6 percent in senior high schools. It said 56 percent were boys and 44 percent were girls, while the vast majority (91 percent) were of Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan origin.
"It is beyond doubt that education is key to helping migrant and refugee children settle in their new home and prevent them from feeling ostracized from the world around them," said Gianluca Rocco, IOM Greece Chief of Mission. "IOM is proud to support the Government of Greece in this important effort to facilitate social cohesion in Greece," he said.