22nd March 2019
The importance of access to education is something Collective Fund Action for Education recognises fully. In 2018, Action for Education received 23,702 visitors across their Chios and Athens centres in Greece, offering a welcoming place and non-formal education to asylum seekers who find themselves in Greece’s camps and urban environments. Three months into the new year and 2019 has seen their projects expand even further, with the opening of ‘The Banana House’ on the 11th of March, on the island of Samos.
Back in December 2018 the 100% volunteer coordinator team spent a few days on Samos, leaving the island knowing that they had to come back to further support in some way. With their moto of ‘rapidly and effectively finding and filling gaps in state-services to uphold basic rights’, the team were once again reminded of why and how they operate. Two weeks into January and the volunteer apartment had been sourced. Three weeks in and the building for the centre was decided. With a building confirmed, this enabled the team to really plan what the Samos programme would look like.
The foundations for the new centre have stemmed from the successes and learned developments of Action for Education’s pre-existing projects. The Halcyon Days Project, a centre in Athens for women run by Action for Women in partnership with Action for Education, offer 3 pillars of support: education, livelihoods and protection. Refugee Education Chios, comprised of a Youth Centre and a Learning Centre, offer safe spaces for refugee teenagers and young adults outside of the Vial Camp. The variety of these projects has enabled the team to adapt what works best across Athens and Chios, to enable the Samos project to remain both practical and relevant for the people on the island.
With the opening having taken place on Monday 11th, the new centre is based on three new revisions to Action for Education’s focus of running non-formal education for refugee communities in Greece. Greater access to non-formal education will be the focus of Samos, with a course-based approach hoping to double potential student attendance, by providing wider and fairer access. Community-led education will also be at the heart of the Samos project, with teachers, volunteers and centre managers being recruited from within the refugee community. A further decision has been made to focus on meeting other basic needs, such as the provision of a greater amount of meals and hot showers. Just under two weeks of being open, the Samos centre has already over 100 students registered to attend courses and 40 volunteers signed up to help!
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