Only about 15 percent of children with special needs have access to education in Greece, says an Action Aid report published in 2015.
The issue became topical again in light of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, December 3. The qualitative report on the state of education for children with disabilities in Greece shows that they are excluded from proper education.
It is estimated that there are about 200,000 children with special needs in Greece and only 31,761 of them go to school. However, as there is no official record of children with disabilities, there is no clear picture of the number of children who are out of school.
While elementary education is compulsory for all children in Greece, and one of their fundamental rights, tens of thousands of children are out of school and as there is no official record of children with disabilities. Since there are no official and specific figures that would identify what the special needs for each person are, there is no way for the ministry of education to plan policies and budgeting.
According to Action Aid’s Quality Report, Greek schools are not accessible to students with disabilities: supervision facilities and material are inadequate and human resources often fail to meet the needs.
In addition, there is no stable and adequate funding for Special Education. Over the last few years, financial resources have dropped dramatically due to the economic crisis, making the situation for children with disabilities even worse.
The exclusion of children with special needs from education is not for lack of legislation, the report says. It is more a matter of prejudice, as disabilities are considered a stigma in Greek society. Many people who have children with special needs often try to “hide” them, instead of providing the tools and care needed so that they can go ahead and get a proper education.