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Cyprus

Govt to open, expand 30 kindergartens

kindergarten

The government is to open or expand 30 kindergartens across the country, Social Welfare Deputy Minister Marilena Evangelou said on Tuesday.

She said the new and expanded kindergartens will also operate during the afternoon, with contracts already having been signed for the first two in Yeroskipou and Derynia.

The new kindergartens are being built in tandem with the government’s plan to expand the provision of free pre-primary education to all children above the age of four years old.

The bill to allow such a change to happen has already passed through the House education committee and is set to be voted on by the House plenum.

Evangelou on Tuesday pointed to the success of the government’s current scheme for children above the age of four, whereby 80 per cent of tuition fees and school meal costs for private kindergartens are subsidised by the government.

In addition, she said, the tuition fees and school meal costs for private kindergarten-goers aged above four years and five months will be covered in their entirety from September.

She also highlighted the five per cent increase in child benefit, saying that around 60,000 families are now better off as a result.

She added that the government is aiming overall to “modernise its child-centred legislation” with the aim of also updating laws relating to foster care and adoption by the autumn.

This, she said, includes provisions for the resettlement of unaccompanied minors who arrive in Cyprus as refugees. This matter has been transferred to the European Commission, with Commission vice president Margaritis Schinas having “offered assurances” to the government on his recent visit to the island.

A total of 190 children are currently in foster care programmes in Cyprus, with a further 290 in semi-independent living situations with foster guardians, often hosted by people from the same country of origin who already have residence status in Cyprus in some form.

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