Smart Solutions

Regional Nursery School

A school for young children created through a public-private partnership in order to restore this crucial service that can enable families to live in relatively isolated areas.

Implemented inKalopanagiotis

Country : Cyprus

What’s the solution?

The creation of a school for young people through a public-private partnership can overcome a key barrier preventing young families from living and working in rural areas.

Particularly when implemented in areas with a growing or potentially growing local economic sector (e.g. agri-tourism) the creation of a nursery school can contribute to positive local development cycles bringing in new families and entrepreneurs.

The solution requires a building to house the school and then funding to equip and staff the school appropriately. The provision of a local bus (or similar) service is crucial to enable children to come to attend the school from different villages in the region.

A typical feature of the solution is an effective public-private cooperation to overcome the initial investment barriers to creating a school for relatively isolated rural communities. In this model, the private investment is crucial to set up the school, including initial investment in the building and infrastructure. After that, the education authorities /national government can take responsibility for a majority of the running costs of the school. This model thus helps to overcome the initial investment barriers that limit the ability of the public sector to set up a school meeting the needs of multiple municipalities across relatively isolated and sparse communities, whilst at the same time allowing public authorities to retain their overall competence for education services."

What makes it smart?

The creation of a nursery school in a rural area that is in a socio-economic development route, strongly connected to agrotourism, is a smart solution because:

  • Offers infants and young children of the local community the opportunity to be educated and raised in a high quality preschool environment.
  • Socially supports the parents of the local community of the mountainous areas, offering them the opportunity and the ability to work.
  • Welcomes children / visitors to the mountainous area for participating in innovative educational programs.
  • Has a shuttle bus with safe seats for children, attendant and professional driver.

How is the solution implemented?

  • Collaboration of the leading representatives of the local communities to create a collective / cooperative body so that it can take responsibility for actions (legal framework, activation of citizens of the community).
  • Utilization of inactive building installations with renovation and reconstruction of their infrastructure.
  • Finding sponsors and funding from successful individuals or various companies offering sponsorships as part of their community social responsibility policy.
  • Requests for assistance from the government mechanism and the relevant bodies.

In what local context has it been applied?

Kalopanagiotis is located in the Marathasa Valley in Troodos, Cypris. It is a mountainous area with several small, geographically isolated communities. Depopulation was one of its major characteristics during the past decades.  However, for the past twenty years, the area has been developing in the agro-tourism sector, in the promotion of the Cypriot tradition, natural wealth and their historical monuments.

Several years ago, the expatriate Mr. Giannakis Papadouris had the vision of the revitalisation of the region and his special homeland. Mr. Papadouris proceeded to the creation of high level tourist accommodation.

At the same time, the residents of the Marathasa villages proceeded with the remodelling of the old traditional houses, with modern facilities for hosting tourists. This development highlighted the need to create the conditions for an attractive settlement for new employees in the wider area (villages of Marathasa and Solea) and sustainable living conditions for young families in the area, because of the new jobs and opportunities provided.

For the children of young families, there was a need for access to quality and affordable services of care, employment and education, especially for children under 3 years, in order to facilitate the integration of both parents in the labor market.

Who was behind the implementation?

  • The main driver for the creation of the nursery school as part of the revitalisation of the isolated and mountainous rural area was the local initiator, Mr. Giannakis Papadouris, supported by funding from the John Papadouris Foundation:
  • The Community Councils of Kalopanagiotis, Moutoulas, Pedoulas, Oikos and Gerakies also contributed to the solution – notably with the establishment of a Partnership and the creation of an Administrative Committee for the operation and administration of the Regional Nursery School.
  • The President of the Community Council of Oikos is the coordinator and legal representative of the Regional Nursery School.

What was the local journey?

The answer to the need to create a better living and working environment for young families was the establishment and operation of the Marathasa Nursery School "Marathokosmos".

The John Papadouris Foundation provided the funding to establish the school with the vision to support young families so that both parents of young children can work in the local community, where jobs had already emerged.

A person responsible for carrying out all actions was hired, for administrative and secretarial support and responsibilities such as:

  1. the offers for the construction of building facilities,
  2. the offers for equipment (pedagogical, furniture, technological),
  3. The appointment of the Scientific Council and the support of University of the Aegean for creating a pioneering framework for the operation of Marathokosmos and
  4. the selection of the appropriate staff (educators, babysitters, school assistants, secretariat, cooking and cleaning staff).

The Marathokosmos Nursery School was housed in the old building of the Greek Orthodox Primary School of Kalopanagiotis. The renovation of the building, the upgrade of the equipment as well as the reinforcement with modern technological equipment, were financed as a donation by the Foundation.

A model nursery school was created with high standard infrastructure, with technological equipment for digital learning, with an innovative program of education, care, employment and education for children aged 4 months to 6 years, in a full day operation.

Key steps in creating the school were:

  • Construction of protective railings around the building / plot due to the steep level of the mountainous area.
  • Construction of a suitable elevator due to three levels of the building.
  • Equipment in the yards with constructions-outdoor toys (slides, swings, seesaws) with safety floors / grass, sandboxes, gardening creations, etc.
  • Creation of infrastructure for children indoors (children w.c., washbasins, diaper changing benches, etc.) in every place of employment and babysitting.
  • Manufacture and supply of children's furniture and materials for preschool rooms.
  • Construction of a semi-professional type kitchen for the preparation of children's meals.
  • Construction of a dining room with supply of suitable furniture and utensils for children.
  • Construction of a bedroom for infants with appropriate equipment.
  • Creation of a special multipurpose space for activities and events

Four meals a day are offered which are prepared with fresh ingredients on the spot.

In addition, free services were offered by the Scientific Council for the elaboration of the Rules of Operation of Marathokosmos, in collaboration with the University of the Aegean

The full-day operation of the school was extended on Saturdays, with the thematic workshops "Creative Saturdays" and specialised educational programs.

In the summer months the operation of the school was extended to Sundays with training programs for adults and employees.

As interest in the school from surrounding municipalities increased, a free transport system was put in place for the arrival and departure of children to and from the school by bus from the villages of Kakopetria, Galata, Evrychos, Katydata, etc.

As the school grows, there are plans to create three departments of different ages (infants 6m-18 months, older infants 19 months-3 years and children 3-6 years).

What have been the main outputs & results?

  • Offers high quality care and education services to children living in a mountainous and remote area as the only institution of pre-school education and care in the wider area (Marathasa and Solea).
  • Offers an afternoon program to local children attending pre-primary education.
  • All the families of the village of Kalopanagiotis responded immediately by enrolling their children in the nursery school in the first year of its operation (November 2020-August 2021).
  • In the second year of operation of the school (September 2021- August 2022), apart from the children of the village of Kalopanagioti, there was a high interest in enrolling from families from the wider area (Solea Valley).
  • Today (2022) the interest in registrations of infants and toddlers is even more intense as the reputation of the school has increased.

What does it bring the village/community?

  • Facilitates young working parents to live and work in the growing local agri-tourism sector by having their children(s) in a full-day educational programme.
  • The building infrastructure and modern technological equipment also offer the potential for broader education and training activities aimed at the adult population on weekends and on holidays – for both permanent residents or visitors creating further attractiveness of the area.
  • In particular, it offers opportunities to link the school with awareness raising and education regarding the local tradition of the area and in general of Cyprus and the natural wealth (flora and fauna) of the Troodos mountain.

What’s needed

Financial resources

Main types of cost:
Financial needs:

Set up / Investment costs: EUR 475 000, including:

Construction / Building: EUR 325 000

Equipment: EUR 110 000

Consulting services: EUR 20 000

Outdoor playground: EUR 20 000

Ongoing costs: approximately EUR 300 000 yearly, including:

• equipment cost, children nutrition, children transportation, staff fees, external staff fees, operating costs (electricity, heating, water), building security, personal safety (children and adults), maintenance of technological equipment, health care costs, etc.

Annual government support covers 60% of the running costs, with the remainder having to be made up from various other (typically local) sources.

Funding received:
John Papadouris Foundation460,000 €Maintenance, building renovation, technological equipment
Annual Government Support15,000 €A proportion of the set-up costs. (The Annual Government support also covers 60% of running costs on an ongoing basis)

Human resources

• Specialist scientists and craftsmen until the completion of the construction project (building, equipment).

• A person for monitoring the Project, under the responsibility of the John Papadouris Foundation.

• Educators (nurses, kindergarten teachers, dance instructors, music teachers), school assistants, external collaborators (paediatrician, nutritionist, school psychologist, speech therapist), secretary / administrator.

• Support staff for food preparation, for cleaning the building, bus driver.

Physical resources

• An appropriate building to house the school

What to do…

  • Cooperation between institutions (local government, central government, local voluntary organisations).
  • Utilisation of local communities’ infrastructure.
  • Funding research.
  • Support from residents of the communities.

and not to do

  • Don’t go alone.
  • Don’t go outside your fields of expertise, but bring in the people you need.

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