Two parents associations in northern Greece voted last week to oppose refugee children attending their schools, publicly denouncing the government’s plans to include the children in the Greek education system.
Following the example of parents in Oreokastro and Filippiada, in northern and western Greece respectively, parents from two primary schools in the northern town of Alexandria voted on Friday against 60 refugee children joining their schools.
In a letter they sent to local authorities, the parents say their decision “was based solely on hygiene concerns, as none of the competent authorities can convince us that all relevant regulations pertaining to the safety of our children will be applied,” and suggested that refugee children could be housed in an altogether different location in the area, where vacant school buildings are available.
Panagiotis Ananiadis, director of education in the central Macedonia region, replied that parents associations are not authorized to determine education policies, which are implemented only by the Ministry of Education. The parents’ health concerns are unfounded, he said, as the ministry guarantees immunization for all refugee children.
Ananiadis added that he rejects the parents’ proposal to transfer refugee children to separate school facilities.
The president of the parents association, Vana Brouskeli-Dimitriadou, resigned Monday, saying that other parents threatened her for opposing the majority’s view during the meeting.
Brouskeli, a doctor who has helped refugees as a volunteer, said the meeting was conducted amid threats against her personal safety and that consequently she was left with no other choice but to resign.
“It is obvious that I cannot implement a decision which does not comply either with our current laws, or with the compassion which we should all show, not with words but in action,” Brouskeli concluded.