By Evie Andreou
MONDAY proved to be a windfall day for the education ministry which received more than half a million euros in two donations to help provide free breakfasts to needy students.
OPAP Cyprus donated €587,681, more than double their donation last year, to cover breakfast costs for low-income students in rural areas.
The second donation came from Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, who gave up the honorary fee of USD 20,000 (€15,446) she received as a judge for the WISE Prize for education 2014 competition.
The betting firm’s donation is to cover all 246 rural schools. Last year OPAP donated €250,000 to the same cause.
“They (children) are the most vulnerable group and the most important part of our population. They are the future and must not lack for anything,” said OPAP Cyprus CEO Demetris Aletraris.
Education Minister Costas Kadis, after thanking OPAP for its donation reassured parents and children that the breakfasts would be provided discreetly and with full respect for families’ dignity.
Based on last year’s statistics, since data is still been collected from schools for this year’s numbers, 13,300 or 12 per cent of all students received free breakfasts at school.
Kadis had said last month that the percentage is high and that this year’s number might be higher.
Handing over her donation to Kadis, Vassiliou said she just would not have felt right keeping the USD 20,000 fee she had received.
“I did not think it was proper as an EU Commissioner to keep this money but rather donating it to charity,” she said.
The commissioner said that she hoped that Cyprus would emerge from the economic crisis so that the free breakfast programme was no longer necessary but that while it was, it was everyone’s duty to contribute.
Kadis said Vassiliou’s donation showed the commissioner’s sensitivity and reassured her that the money would go where the need was greatest.
Meanwhile, the ‘Back to School with Hope’ campaign of the Hope for Children (HFC) non-governmental organisation headed by the Andrey & Julia Dashin Foundation announced on Monday that they were still collecting new or used school items in good condition to given to low-income families.
Two events are taking place to promote the campaign – in Larnaca on September 19, at Kimonos Square, from 5pm until 8pm and in Nicosia on September 28, from 5pm until 7pm at Faneromeni Square. In Nicosia APOEL players will be present to sign autographs.
The campaign, which is part of HFC’s programme ‘Eradicate Child Poverty in Cyprus’, will run until January.
For more information call Hope for Children: 96 317873, 22 103234