Greek schools to extend operating hours to help working parents

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Greek schools will be operating under extended operating hours the Greek Ministry of Education announced in the hope of addressing new demographic challenges and support working parents.

The pilot program extending all-day kindergartens and primary schools to 17:30 will go into effect as of September, Education Minister Niki Kerameus told a congress on demographics on Wednesday.

The congress is on "Demographics 2022: The great challenge," held at the Grande Bretagne Hotel.

Kerameus said the pilot program is addressed to all students of these ages throughout Greece, without any qualification requirements. It aims at helping working parents and at improving the quality of studies, with an emphasis on creative arts and music, while also helping children complete their homework. The purpose, she said, is to allow more time at home for play and interacting with family members.

Citing recent statistics, the Education minister said a drop in primary school first-graders of 16.5%-17% was recorded in the last five years, and noted that supporting families was key in dealing with the demographic issue. One of the support measures currently includes a 2,000-euro bonus to each newborn, a subsidy that "has benefited over 200,000 children the last 2.5 years," she said.

The school day extension program was also mentioned at the congress by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who spoke on the need to deal urgently with the issue of low birth rates and lack of fundamental support for parents, especially young working couples.

According to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, the measure will initially include 50% of kindergartens and primary schools already operating on a full-time schedule, or at 5,000 units in Greece.