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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

The subsidy scheme for private kindergartens is extended – Measures for waiting lists

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ΕπεκτεΙνεταιτ οχοετσσδιικ νηιεαμτα τισ τες αναμονorς

Developments are expected in the coming months, with regard to the Meal and Tuition Subsidy Plan, implemented from 2022 by the Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare, with the authorities preparing to announce the changes after the end of the current school year. What is clear is that the changes are being made to align the data in the private sector with the public sector, after the passing of the legislation for the mandatory downward expansion of the Primary.

The President of the Republic, speaking at the event for the mother of many children, had announced that the Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare is working on changes to the Feeding and Tuition Grant Plan, stressing that it will come into force from September 2024. Essentially, it is the same plan that is in force and today, which applies from 2022 and will be expanded to cover more beneficiaries.

“The subsidy was for children up to 4 years old, now it will be extended to children up to 4.5 years old. This was decided to be in line with the legislation that was passed for compulsory Pre-Primary education in public kindergartens, which starts at 4.5 years old for the new year. We must emphasize that at the moment, we have exceeded 11,000 beneficiaries who are subsidized, because the applications have increased to 50% since the beginning of the year”, the senior official of the Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare, Fanos Kouroufexis, told REPORTER.

What is made clear by the Deputy Ministry is that the extension of the grant, to cover children aged 4.5 years, comes to align the data in the private sector with the public sector, since based on the legislation passed before Easter, regarding the mandatory downward extension of children's attendance in Pre-Primary education, from next September public kindergartens will accept children aged 4.5 years and older.

“The legislation of Pre-primary does not cover private matters, but we did not want to create a vacuum. Initially the plan was for infants, but we expanded it to cover toddlers as well, until they go to public education. We believe that it will bring another increase to the subsidized beneficiaries and we hope to reach 13,000 beneficiaries. The majority is subsidized by the project in question”.

However, as Mr. Kouroufexis explained, the Deputy Ministry will monitor the developments regarding the implementation of the legislation on downward extension and depending on the data prevailing each year, there will be a relevant modification of the Plan, so that parents can choose the best for their children.

“We will monitor the developments and we will continue to subsidize the parents, because we believe that the child who goes to education as early as possible, have more advantages than those children who do not go, in their later course of education. That's where it all starts.”

The procedures on the part of the Deputy Ministry, regarding the amendments to the Meal and Tuition Subsidy Plan have been completed and are expected within the next few weeks to be brought before the Council of Ministers to receive approval, while the announcement is expected to be made within July, as it must first to complete the current school year and then make the changes, so that within the summer months the school units and then the eligible parents can apply for participation.

“This is also a solution to the issue that was raised when the legislation was being discussed for the mandatory downward expansion of Pre-primary and with our own intervention, the private kindergartens were reassured because they had expressed complaints that they would lose customers. But, as the Ministry of Education and we have explained, this legislation is good because it forces private individuals to invest in younger ages, when parents need help”.

Looking for solutions to long waiting lists

It is noted that the Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare is also working on measures to solve the problem with the long waiting lists that exist in private kindergartens, as many parents reserve places for their… unborn children, with the result that other parents, who are in great need, are not they can find a place.

“We are doing many things and in the coming years, our goal is for all children to have a place in kindergarten. We are changing everything in this area, because it is where the Cypriot society was hurting. One of the main ones is the tuition subsidy scheme because it enables private individuals to open classes and they will be able to fill them. The plan has increased demand because 80% of the costs are covered.”

Fanos Kouroufexis pointed out that in addition to the Subsidy Plan, the Deputy Ministry is also taking advantage of the possibilities provided by the Recovery Plan, which will be implemented until June 2026, in order to subsidize the creation of new classes, with the amount of the sponsorship amounting to half a million euro. The aim is to create 30 new classes.

The preparation of a National Strategy for Pre-Primary is in the works

Meanwhile, the Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare seems to be putting special emphasis on Pre-Primary Education, as in recent months it has been in contact with the European Commission and UNICEF and together they are conducting an important study, in order to map the needs that exist.

“After the study, we will proceed with the preparation of a National Strategy, with the competent Ministries, such as the Ministry of Education, for Preschool education. Within the National Strategy, which will be completed before the end of the year, there will be several things, possibly incentives for the needs that became apparent through our study. What we found is that we need a lot more childcare centers for ages 0-3. We want a lot of investments and now that we have the study that was done, we will promote it so that they are implemented”.

Source: reporter.com.cy

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