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Accessing the Human Right to Education: The Contributions of Non-Formal Education for Refugees on the Greek Island of Lesvos

Schiro, Tiffany

In recent years, various policies and governments have pushed the European migrant crisis to EU border states, confining thousands of refugees to the islands of Greece. Refugees specifically on the island of Lesvos experience egregious human rights violations including the systemic denial of education, causing NGOs to attempt to fill this gap with non-formal education. By using data from sixteen participant interviews, this study examines the contributions of non-formal education and how it allows refugees to access their right to education, as well as obstacles which impede its success. This study argues that refugees face systemic marginalization and exclusion from social structures in Greece including education; however, non-formal education is able to fill a crucial gap in services and counteract some of these challenges. These include its ability to restore a sense of dignity, foster belonging and support networks, provide transferable skills for a precarious future, and generate tools to access pathways to future opportunities. Although this research argues that non-formal education is the most effective way to educate refugees in this context, it also outlines the ways in which it remains currently insufficient to address a widespread lack of education. This is due to barriers beyond its control including a lack of governmental support for this programming, and the overall protracted, politicized refugee situation on the island, which hinders any smaller-scale efforts for redress from being entirely successful. The study further argues that in order for the lack of education for refugees to be remedied, the Greek government should find political solutions which recognize refugees’ human rights, as well as uphold the right to education and increase governmental support for non-formal education.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Nettelfield, Lara J.
Degree
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
August 25, 2020