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Child commissioner urges special educational measures for children of asylum seekers

Children at the Kofinou centre for asylum seekers

Social and educational services for children staying at the Kofinou centre for asylum seekers need to be improved, Commissioner for Children’s Rights Leda Koursoumba said in a report made public on Monday.

In the report the commissioner specifically targeted the Kofinou primary school which is attended by the children of the centre.

“The quality of education provided for children who are in the process of claiming asylum can be improved through various measures such as the establishment, maintenance and expansion of positive measures like reducing the number of students per class, providing additional teaching time, the provision of free breakfast to all students, the presence of an interpreter or providing bilingual education, and securing insurance coverage for all students,” Koursoumba stated.

She proposed that the school should have more autonomy so that teachers and administrators can implement measures to address the challenges specific to the school and attract experienced and specially trained teachers.

Teaching hours of teachers should be reduced so the teachers have time to design educational programmes while bilingual or Arab-speaking teachers need to be employed to facilitate communication in the classroom she said.

As regards health and safety matters, the commissioner recommends that emphasis be placed not only on the basic needs of the minors such as shelter, food, clothing and education but also on their mental and emotional well-being.

“The refugees should have a stable routine that will allow them to experience a possible creative and pleasant stay,” the report went on to say, adding that a provision for those who need support because they are traumatised has to be made.

“The commissioner recognises and appreciates the efforts so far made by all the competent authorities and services, but believes that there is considerable scope for improving the social and educational benefits to this particular group of children,” the report said.

The commissioner said that she would keep monitoring the situation and had started to look into the conditions at the Kofinou kindergarten and Lefkara high school where children from the centre are also taught.

 

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