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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The Greek government is defending its decision to ban educational trips abroad for high school pupils, saying that protects disadvantaged children from the “trauma” of not being able to afford the cost.

The Education Ministry says the ban applies to foreign trips for cultural and environmental educational purposes. But traditional final-year five-day excursions — which are purely for fun — can still be organized abroad, as well as domestically.

A ministry statement Thursday said the decision was made after ministry officials realized that many Greek families were unable to cover the expense of a foreign educational school trip for their children. It said schools are instead encouraged to organize educational excursions within Greece.

The ban has been in place since the spring but has been enforced only recently.