4.1 General context
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Main challenges to social inclusion
According to a European Commission report regarding Greece (Ziomas, et al., 2020), it is commonly recognised that public transportation is critical to societal participation, helping to offer access to education, healthcare, employment, and everyday routines. In summary, demand for public transportation is crucial for market and employment market inclusion. To that end, it is critical to ensure that everyone has access to the transportation they require or desire. In Greece, successive governments have imposed a series of policy measures and procedures in recent years to improve access to public transportation for certain vulnerable groups of the population. These metrics, however, are not specifically aimed at low-income people, even if some of the groups supported by these measures could include low-income people who depend heavily on public transportation. The lack of access to public transportation is a serious challenge that requires a series of measures to foster social inclusion.
Additional facts that place social inclusion as a required measure for Greek society are an estimation by Eurostat, which was also published in a Greek report by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (Hellenic Statistical Authority, 2022). The report mentions that in 2020, 28.8% of the Greek population was at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion. This is another reason that proves the need for the formation of social inclusion policies.
Social inclusion is also a topic relevant to education and, in particular, it enhances all the social classes of the youth living in Greece to join the national Greek educational system. According to research by the Hellenic Statistical Authority, young immigrants are a youth group affected by this factor (Hellenic Statistical Authority, 2015). According to the research findings, immigration background seems to be negatively correlated with the level of education: People with an immigrant background tend to have a lower level of education than those born in Greece. For instance, only 54.7% of people aged 15-24, indicate very good knowledge of the Greek language. Discrimination on the grounds of origin, religion, or social cause is the most frequently cited factor as an obstacle to finding a job that matches the qualifications of the respondents with an immigrant background (37%). Unsatisfactory knowledge of the Greek language (27.2%) emerges as the second limiting factor, followed by restrictions due to citizenship or residence permit (17.8%).
The term social inclusion has been defined in several public documents issued by the Greek government.
The National Strategy for Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction, which was published in 2021 (Hellenic Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, 2021), defines social inclusion as the framework for the creation of a safety net for the groups of the population most affected by the effects of the economic crisis (individuals and families at risk of poverty and social exclusion), and will be used as a development tool for the rational promotion of large-scale social investment.
Another term that was also adopted by the National Strategy for Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction and was published in the National Strategic Framework for Social Integration (Hellenic Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, 2014) is the model of social inclusion, which was defined as: “A grid of public policies to defend key individual and social rights through organised institutional, operational, and financial tools for preventing and combating poverty, social exclusion, and discrimination.”