The Greek economic crisis led to devastating cuts in social services, including preschool childcare – but a new model of education is now emerging, with parents forming a co-operative to fill the gap.
The Halandri Parents Social Cooperative Enterprise is only the second co-operative care-giving enterprise in Greece – the first was established on Crete a few years ago – and offers a platform for parents to share information about preschool, primary and secondary education.
It started life in 2011, when parents in the Athens suburb of Halandri formed a committee to oppose the closure of a number of preschool nurseries. At the time, there were more than 2,000 preschool-aged children in the city while five out of nine public nurseries had been shut down, leaving expensive private nurseries as the only alternative for most parents.
“Free, public school services have collapsed – it’s a combination of services not working properly, cuts, and standards not kept – in some cases, they should be closed,” said Dinos Palyvos, a teacher and translator who helped set up the co-op. The team also includes two engineers, two translators, an illustrator, a graphic designer and two teachers.
In a bid to change the way education is delivered, the co-op has developed a number of projects, including a co-operative school of private tuition, which was opened two years ago. It has already doubled its number of students, and teachers’ wages are significantly higher than the market average.