August 31, 2022
By Victoria Jones and Stanton Geyer
Between June 20 and July 8, 2022, ELNOR staff and volunteers conducted a research project to learn about children’s access to education in refugee camps in Greece. Greece, alongside Italy and Spain, receives the greatest number of asylum seekers in Europe per year, and its refugee camps and security activities have been criticized by international organizations and NGOs for several years (Human Rights Watch 2018, Doctors Without Borders 2018). ELNOR’s team was focused on learning about how the right to education was and is being upheld or denied in these camp settings.
Through three weeks of research, ELNOR connected with individuals and families at the Afghan Migrant & Refugee Community Center in Exarchia, Athens. ELNOR’s research team ran approximately 70 surveys over a 15-day period, including multiple written or voice-recorded interviews. Survey engagements served both as qualitative interviews and semi-structured interviews, during which we gained deeper insight from families into the refugee situation.
Our key takeaways include a general historical breakdown in communicating educational and other needs between camp authorities (security, instructors, program coordinators, camp managers/administrators) and refugee families. This pipeline of critical information appears unavailable not only for those newly arrived, but also for those who live within the camp long-term. Across surveys and interviews, there was a prevailing notion that educational resources were inconsistently available to children in camps, whether because of long waiting periods, backlogs for student enrollment, lack of access to enrollment officials, or other reasons. It was clear that parents and former students have different access to resources and knowledge of resources within camps.
Another issue remains the accessibility of programs and resources for unaccompanied minors. This includes not only educational enrollment, money, and food, but also advocacy during such traumatizing circumstances as forced transfer by seemingly authoritative NGOs. The full report from the research conducted this summer will include semi-structured interviews describing such challenges for young people seeking asylum.
To learn more about the lived experiences and educational opportunities for people inside European refugee camps, follow ELNOR as we release the full research report this fall.
ELNOR Education is an educational nonprofit (501c3) connecting adult refugees with online English language tutors through video call lessons. Through partners like those in Athens, Lesvos, and Thessaloniki, ELNOR reaches new students, conducts annual research, and pursues topics in education and advocacy for refugees.
Human Rights Watch Says Lesbos Refugee Center “Open-Air Prison””. The National Herald. 22 November 2018.
The worst refugee camp on earth’ – BBC News. BBC News. 28 November 2018.