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Special Needs Education in Greece

Understand what kind of assistance is available for children with special needs in the Greek school system...

There are primary schools established specifically for students with special needs in Greece, though they are mostly found in urban areas. Integrated programmes are also found within mainstream primary schools to accommodate special needs students. Special needs education for secondary school students is not as widely found, though the Greek government is working to improve special needs education access for secondary school students.

Greece has ratified most of the major international conventions with provisions relating to access to education and employment for people with special needs. The Greek Constitution ensures that all citizens receive free education, and obliges the State to provide support to students with special needs.

Provisions for Special Needs Education

Six official categories of special needs exist:

  1. Mental retardation
  2. Sensor motor disabilities (blind and deaf)
  3. Motor impairments and other help problems
  4. Speech and language problems
  5. Learning disabilities
  6. Emotional disturbances

Up to the age of 22, people with special educational needs can receive an education in a variety of schools using adapted programmes. Before entry to the school, children with disabilities are evaluated at an assessment centre.

Special needs education in public schools can be offered in one of the following settings:

  • In inclusive classes within the mainstream school
  • In mainstream classes with one-to-one support
  • In special schools
  • In special classes within hospitals or institutions
  • At home

While education for children with disabilities is offered in both mainstream and special schools, the emphasis is on inclusion within public schools, so that children with disabilities can integrate with other students. Support teaching for weaker pupils consists of their attendance in a special programme in language, mathematics, physics, chemistry and foreign language. This programme begins at the start of the second three-month term.

Enrolling a Child for Special Education

In order for a child to be placed in a Greek programme for special needs, including Dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD) programmes, they must be assessed at an evaluation centre (Differential Diagnosis, Diagnosis and Support for Special Educational Needs (Kendro Diaforodiagnosis, Diagnosis kai Ypostiriksis Eidikon Ekpaideutikon Anagon, KEDDY) or at an approved paediatric or psychiatric facility, to obtain certification of their problems.

KEDDY Differential Diagnosis, Diagnosis and Support for Special Educational Needs Centres

The KEDDY centres provide and coordinate services for children with special educational needs at the local level, operating as decentralised units of the Ministry of Education. They are the main body responsible for:

  • Providing diagnoses for the purpose of determining special educational needs
  • Recommending the placement of children with special educational needs in the appropriate school
  • Providing advisory services and guidance to pupils, parents and teachers
  • Providing special pedagogical support at home (in special cases)
  • Providing early intervention services

By law, every Prefecture in Greece (54 in total) has an evaluation team consisting of elementary and secondary school teachers, a psychologist and a medical doctor, as well as physiotherapists and school workers. In addition, school administrators, parents, and physical education teachers often decide on the participation of special needs students in physical education classes. The KEDDYs of the two major cities (Athens and Thessaloniki) are also expected to include specialists in Greek sign language, in mobility training, and vocational guidance for people with vision problems.

The Athens-based KEDDY centres are:

  • Third Enaio Lykeo of Aigaleo
    At: Thivon 240, 122 41 Athens
    Tel: 210 561 0995
    Fax: 210 561 3655
  • Eastern Attica KEDDY
    Christos Beka
    At: 190 04 Spata
    Tel: 210 663 4670
  • Western Attica KEDDY
    Special Dimotiko Skoleio of Elefsina
    At
    : Alikviadou and Arkadiou, 192 00 Elefsina
    Tel
    : 210 554 0423
  • Piraeus
    N.E.L.A. Piraeus
    At: Zabella 88, 185 23 Piraeus
    Tel: 210 412 0114
    Fax
    : 210 413 4128

For a full listing of the KEDDY centres throughout Greece see the Hellenic Dyslexia Association website (in Greek), which also lists the paediatric and psychiatric facilities where testing and assessment for special education can be done. The site has an archive of articles, some in English, books and information about dyslexia, as well as links to other sites.

Schools for Children with Special Needs

In Greece there are separate public schools for some categories of people with disabilities. They include elementary and secondary schools for the deaf, for the blind, and for children with cerebral palsy. For a complete list of schools for children with special needs, apply to:

  • Ministry of Education and Religion
    Directorate of Special Education
    At
    : Papandreou 37, Marousi
    Tel
    : 210 344 2190
    Fax
    : 210 344 2193

Special needs in private education

For the non-Greek speaker or for those seeking private education in Greece, the American Community Schools (ACS) of Greece has an Optimum Match Programme for children with special needs: mild learning difficulties, specific learning disabilities and also exceptional abilities. Applicants for such programmes are assessed by a psychologist. Lists of qualified examiners and tutors are available through the school or through embassies.

Other foreign and private schools have special education teachers who can give the child one-on-one help while integrating them into the mainstream system. Copies of past diagnosis, translated into English, are usually required. Check with individual schools directly for details.

Dyslexia

Special education for dyslexic children in Greece

Under current law dyslexic students receive supportive training programmes in what are called "special courses for integration". Some secondary school teachers also complete two years of specialist post-graduate training in teaching pupils with special needs. Students with a diagnosis confirmed by an authorised Paediatric Centre may take their examinations orally at every stage of their education.

Diagnosis may be made at any of the KEDDY Diagnostic and Support Centres, Paediatric Facilities, and Centres for Psychological Health listed above. In all cases, diagnosis is free of charge for everyone insured by either the public or private sectors.

Support groups and information

The City of Athens – Social Policy and Initiatives for People with Disabilities

Included are initiatives in the following areas:

  • Roads and walkway access
  • Accessibility to city offices (lifts, toilets, ramps)
  • Playgrounds for children with disabilities
  • Help line for individuals with reduced mobility (Athens information helpline)
    • Tel: 1595
  • The "Help at Home" programme
  • Support of the Greek Athletic Federation for People with Disabilities
  • Centre for intellectually impaired youth
  • Leaflet on City Disability Programmes, free from:
    • Information Centre for People With Disabilities
      At
      : Favierou and Mayer Streets 5, Athens
      Tel: 210 522 1177
  • Volunteers
  • Accessibility to cultural events
  • See the City of Athens website
Travel and Tourism for People with Disabilities
Further Information
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