NEWS

Parents’ ire over kindergartens

Thousands of parents who have been sending their children to day-care centers due to the lack of available places at state kindergartens are up in arms after discovering that many of these preschools have been operating without licenses. These parents must now seek kindergarten places, as according to education sector regulations their children can only progress to the first grade of primary school if they have received a certificate verifying that they have completed a course at kindergarten. The prospect of finding a kindergarten at short notice is daunting for parents due to the lack of free places at state institutions and the relatively high cost of private alternatives. An official at the Education Ministry said all parents who applied on time for their children to join state kindergartens had been been allotted places. «All children for whom applications were made this year received places at state kindergartens,» said Alexandros Kopsis, noting that 98,300 attend classes this year, as compared to 93,200 last year. But a spokesperson for the Primary School Teachers’ Federation (DOE) said 58,000 youngsters had failed to secure a place at a state kindergarten. Meanwhile, many parents who managed to find a place for their children at a state kindergarten have been complaining about the quality of their infrastructure and organization. One kindergarten in Ilioupolis, a southern suburb of Athens, is reportedly housed in a rented store with no recreational area for the children, who play in a park on the other side of the street. At another kindergarten in the central Athens district of Vyronas, children reportedly take a daily nap slumped over their desks. Some parents have aired their grievances online at http://aparadektos-nipiagwgeio.blogspot.com. Many are calling for the postponement of the new law – which calls for children to have kindergarten experience before starting primary school – to give them time to find kindergartens. One blogger, a single mother, writes, «I’ve reached a dead end – state kindergartens fail to meet the necessary standards and cause endless hassle for parents.»