Access to education for refugees and asylum seekers in Greece:
The Greek education system is under the central responsibility and supervision of the Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs.
Can my children access education in Greece?
Yes, if you are an asylum seeker, or a recognized refugee, or a beneficiary of subsidiary protection, your minor children may access the national education system under similar conditions as Greek nationals.
To enrol in Greek schools, you require the same supporting documents that are requested from Greek nationals. Your children may be enrolled even if you do not have a birth or a family status certificate. However the following documents are required:
- Your “applicant for international card” or “asylum seeker’s card” or valid residence permit;
- A health or a vaccinations booklet;
- Proof of residence.
Education for refugee children is available while they remain in the country; documentation of attendance will be provided upon your official departure from Greece. Accessing education in Greece does not oblige you and your family members to stay in Greece.
Is education compulsory in Greece?
Education is compulsory for all children in Greece, including refugees and asylum seekers, boys and girls, who are aged between 5 and 15 years old. Compulsory education includes pre-primary (one year), primary and lower secondary education. Primary education (Demotiko) lasts six years, lower secondary education (Gymnasio) lasts three years.
Upper secondary education lasts three years and includes unified upper secondary school (Eniaio Lykeio) and technical vocational school (TEE). Students may choose between vocational or academic courses at the age of 15, at the end of Gymnasio.
Pre-school education and early childhood facilities
In Greece, children aged six months to five years old can attend infant centres (vrefonipiakos stathmos).
If your child is aged between 2 and a half and 5 years, you can request a place in a child centre (paidikos stathmos), which are either run by the municipalities or privately funded. From the age of four, children can attend a pre-primary school (nipiagogeio), which is compulsory after the age of five.
If you live in an open accommodation facility (camp), you may access the pre-primary schools that the Ministry of Education plans to establish.
If you live in a city, you may go to the nearest pre-primary school to enrol your child.
You will need to complete an application, submit a document that proves your address and present the ‘booklet of health’ of the child that will also prove that she or he has been vaccinated. Enrolment takes place every year from June 1 to 15, but applications may also be accepted after those dates, if there are available places in the school.
Primary and Lower Secondary (Gymnasium) Education
If your child will turn six years old, she or he may be enrolled in the A class of the primary school.
For children who are older than six years, you must present a relevant certificate or declare how many years they previously attended school and in which country.
If you live in an apartment or hotel or a building in a city, you may register children aged between six and fifteen years old in educational classes. Morning classes are conducted in Primary schools and in Secondary schools there is a ‘Zone of Educational Priorities’ (ZEP) program operated by the Ministry of Education. Children attend school together with Greek nationals. Reception classes will be established in order to provide additional support, in particular for Greek language comprehension.
You need to go to the school that is nearest to your residence and say you want to register your children at the school. The most important document you need to take with you is proof that your children have received relevant vaccinations.
The school may also ask you to provide:
- Proof of your address. If you live in an “open accommodation facility” or site, an apartment or reception facility of an NGO or any other actor (such as municipality), you may request a certificate to prove your address from the agency that manages the accommodation. If you are hosted by a Greek person or any other migrant or recognised refugee, you need to submit an official, written declaration from that person stating that they are hosting you. This must include their tax number and certification of their signature in a Citizen’s Centre or KEP. In addition you will need evidence that they are the owner or tenant of the address, such as a lease, the contract of the house or a copy of a utility bill.
- A health certificate. You receive this document after your child has had a medical examination. This certificate allows the school know of any health problems your child has that may require support. Medical examinations are free and can be done at the nearest public health center or clinic.
- Your child’s International Protection Applicant Card (or asylum seeker’s card), or valid residence permit.
The school will make a copy of these documents.
If you live in an open accommodation facility (camp or site), your children have the right to access education. They may access nearby schools to attend the Zone of Educational Priorities program or the afternoon classes organized by the Ministry of Education. For more information, you can ask the Refugee Education Coordinator in your location or you may also find more information provided by Refugee Info in multiple languages here.
What does secondary education include?
Secondary Education includes two levels:
- Gymnasium of 3 years duration that is mandatory education;
- General Lyceum, Professional Lyceum and Professional Schools, not mandatory education.
How do I enroll my child in Gymnasium or Lyceum?
Enrolment is automatic for children who have graduated from Primary school, or Gymnasium in Greece.
If your child has attended secondary education in your country or in another country, you may present the relevant certificate of attendance. If you do not have a certificate of attendance, your child might be able to undertake an examination before a committee.
What are Special Primary Schools?
Some Primary schools have specialized personnel and teachers for students with disabilities (serious hearing impairment or intellectual or learning impediments). For enrolment in special schools, the Centres for Diagnosis, Evaluation and Support for Persons with Special Needs (KE.D.D.Y.) issues the relevant recommendation and makes the referral.
What is an intercultural school?
These schools implement special research and innovation programs with emphasis on intercultural communication and the educational and cultural needs of students. Teachers are selected and hired on the basis of their experience of intercultural education, the knowledge of the mother tongues of their students and teaching Greek as a foreign language. There are 13 intercultural schools of primary education and 13 of secondary education in the country.
Υou can find the list of intercultural schools in Greek here. Note that the information provided in the link is in Greek.
You may also ask NGOs supporting migrants/refugees about the operation of intercultural schools in your location.
What is Evening Gymnasium and Lyceum?
These are schools for students above 15 years who are working in the morning. Attendance is also for 3 years, for 4 or 5 hours every evening.
What opportunities are available after Lyceum?
Children who graduate from secondary education in Greece (Lyceum) may participate in examinations in order to enter Universities or Higher Technological Institutions, or register in the Institutes of Vocational Training (IEK).
Is adult education available in Greece?
There are several educational programs for adults organized by state or private agencies, NGOs and other organisations. The General Secretariat of Lifelong Learning of the Ministry of Education is the responsible authority for most of the educational programs for adults. The following are some examples.
Schools of Second Chance are for adults who have not completed mandatory education. The duration of study is two years, which includes afternoon classes. Students who graduate obtain a certificate equal to the one obtained from a Gymnasium. You can find information here in Greek about Schools of Second Chance which operate in several locations in the country.
Centres for Lifelong Learning operate in municipalities.
Greek language courses for migrants and refugees are organised by Universities, NGOs, and Centres for Vocational Training. You may ask NGOs supporting refugees and migrants for details or for assistance in finding out about program implementation and availability.
Online language courses are delivered by Universities in Greece such as the University of Aegean which has 1,000 places available. These universities participate in the Erasmus OLS+ programme which offers refugees and migrants the opportunity to learn a European Language. More information is available here.
Can I enrol in tertiary education in Greece?
If you graduated from secondary education in Greece, you have access to tertiary education under the same conditions as Greek nationals. You need to participate in relevant examinations.
If you have graduated from secondary school in another country, you are treated as other migrants; there are no special provisions of law facilitating refugees and asylum seekers to enter Universities in Greece. The Ministry of Education provides more information here in English.
Is my diploma from another country recognised in Greece?
If you are a recognised refugee or beneficiary of subsidiary protection, you are treated in the same way as Greek nationals in relation to recognition of foreign diplomas, certificates and evidence of formal qualifications.
If you cannot provide evidence of your qualifications, the relevant Greek authorities should facilitate the process; however procedures taking into account the specific situation of refugees are not yet in place.
If you are an asylum seeker, you may be able to have your diploma or certificate recognised, however you will need to fulfil additional requirements.
The following state institutions facilitate the recognition of diplomas.
The Department of Studies, Programs and Scholar Issues of the Ministry of Education for the recognition of titles of Primary and Secondary education. Find more information in Greek here.
The National Organisation for the Accreditation of Qualifications and Professional Orientation (Ε.Ο.P.P.Ε.P.). Find more information in Greek here.
The Interdisciplinary Organisation for the Recognition of Academic Titles and of Information. Find more information in Greek here.